Some 2014 House Races Already Developing in NJ

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) —

After two elections of mostly playing defense in New Jersey congressional races, Democrats are showing signs of making a concerted push to win some Republican-controlled seats in the 2014 elections.

A year before voting, the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted central New Jersey’s 3rd District, where Republican Jon Runyan this month announced he would not seek re-election, and southern New Jersey’s 2nd District, held by Republican Frank LoBiondo for nearly two decades. Democratic candidates have begun campaigning in both districts.

So far, national Republican groups have not gotten visibly involved in campaigns in Democrat-held districts. Each party currently holds six seats in the state.

The Democrats’ push meant an early start for the 2014 race. The DCCC has been organizing in both districts since summer, and now Democrats with deep backing are running in both.

Bill Hughes Jr., a lawyer and son of a congressman who represented the 2nd District from 1975 until 1994, is running against LoBiondo in a district that covers the southernmost part of the state.

And two weeks ago, Aimee Belgard, a Burlington County freeholder, announced her candidacy in the 3rd District, which stretches from the Philadelphia suburbs to the shore.

Her supporters handed out a list of more than 50 current and former Burlington County elected officials who have endorsed her.

The dynamics of that race changed the day before Belgard formally entered with a speech at Paulsdale, the Mount Laurel home where early-20th century abolitionist Alice Paul once lived. That’s because Runyan announced he would not seek a third term next year. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family, but Democrats have read his decision partly as a sign of frustration with last month’s partial federal government shutdown. Runyan, who said he did not want to make a career of politics, voted against the shutdown.

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