New Jersey House

LoBiondo Retirement Moves NJ-02 from Solid Republican to Toss Up

Wasserman Photo
November 7, 2017

In a blow to House Republicans, popular moderate GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) announced he will not seek another term in 2018, citing both term limits on his chairmanship of the House Aviation subcommittee and a "vocal and obstinate minority within both parties" that has "hijacked good legislation in pursuit of no legislation." His decision moves his South Jersey seat all the way from Solid Republican to Toss Up.

Since his first election in 1994, LoBiondo had forged a close relationship with organized labor, insulating him from electoral danger in a district that includes Atlantic City. This helped him become politically untouchable, even when the district leaned Democratic at the presidential level. In many ways, his blue-collar appeal predated President Trump's. In 2016, Trump won the district 51 percent to 46 percent while LoBiondo won reelection by 22 points.

Trump's breakthrough gives GOP operatives hope they can hold onto this seat, even in difficult conditions. But Democrats do have a bench here. For years, Democrats have tried and failed to convince state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, who hails from the more Republican Cape May part of the 2nd District, to run. Now, Van Drew says he is interested but won't make an immediate decision. There are plenty of Democratic local officeholders in Cumberland and Gloucester counties too.

LoBiondo's exit, coupled with Arizona GOP Rep. Martha McSally's increasingly likely Senate run, means Democrats' route to the majority is more plausible than it was a week ago. It could also further marginalize the remaining moderates in the House GOP.

Image: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call