Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Monday, October 20, 2014, 7:07 PM
Battling for a U.S. House seat, Republican Tom MacArthur and Democrat Aimee Belgard during a lighter moment at their debate in Moorestown. (ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – There’s more bad news for Democrats who had hoped U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan’s decision to retire would help them snatch his South Jersey congressional seat from Republicans.

House Majority PAC, which aims to help Democrats win House races, is moving its advertising buy from the competitive race to replace Runyan – featuring Republican Tom MacArthur and Democrat Aimee Belgard -- to the safe Democratic seat next door, in Camden County.

That means the PAC will instead be helping state Sen. Donald Norcross (D., Camden) as he runs against Republican Garry Cobb in the contest to replace former U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, a Democrat who resigned earlier this year. A spokesman for House Majority PAC confirmed the move in an e-mail but provided no further details.

POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2014, 2:22 PM
Frank LoBiondo, a longtime Republican Congressman from the Atlantic City area.

WASHINGTON – A couple weeks ago one poll suggested that Democrat Bill Hughes Jr. might be within striking distance of a major upset of U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R., N.J.) in South Jersey.

A new poll today says: not so fast.

And maybe not even close.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 2:13 PM
Battling for a U.S. House seat, Republican Tom MacArthur and Democrat Aimee Belgard during a lighter moment at their debate in Moorestown. (Elizabeth Robertson / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – Despite Republican Tom MacArthur’s personal wealth, the spending battle between he and Democrat Aimee Belgard has been surprisingly close so far – thanks to national Democrats’ investment in the most hard-fought congressional race in the region.

MacArthur, a former insurance industry executive, spent $1.9 million (much of it his own money) in his run for the House seat representing much of Burlington and Ocean counties in July, August and September, according to campaign filings released today.

Belgard, an attorney and Burlington County freeholder, spent about $590,000 over the same three-month span her campaign said today.  But the Democratic Congressional Committee helped by pouring $1.2 million into the race to attack MacArthur and close the spending gap. (The comparisons are not exact: the DCCC spending includes amounts expended in October; the candidate reports only go through Sept. 30).

POSTED: Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 12:11 PM
Battling for a U.S. House seat, Republican Tom MacArthur and Democrat Aimee Belgard during a lighter moment at their debate in Moorestown. (Elizabeth Robertson / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – A new poll says Republican Tom MacArthur has a 10 point lead over Democrat Aimee Belgard in the race for a South Jersey congressional seat, signaling that what was thought to be the toughest race in the region may not turn out so close after all.

MacArthur won support from 51 percent of likely voters in the district compared to 41 percent for Belgard, a Burlington County freeholder, according to the Monmouth University poll released Tuesday. Only 6 percent were undecided and the rest said they would support an alternate candidate in the contest to replace U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), who is retiring. The district includes much of Burlington and Ocean counties.

“This is not turning out to be the horse race that Democrats had hoped,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 8, 2014, 6:44 AM
Former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur, left, will take on Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard in New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District.

WASHINGTON - A group that supports conservative fiscal policy plans to spend $1.1 million to help a Republican Congressional candidate in the final week of the region’s closest House race.

The American Action Network will spend $913,000 on a broadcast television buy in the Philadelphia market between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3, and more on Web ads to aid the GOP's Tom MacArthur in his South Jersey race, a spokeswoman for the group told the Inquirer Tuesday night. (Election Day is Nov. 4).

The Network is the political arm of the American Action Forum, which advocates for center-right fiscal policy.

MacArthur, a former mayor of Randolph in North Jersey, has already spent heavily in his campaign against Democrat Aimee Belgard, a Burlington County freeholder, but the contest remains tight heading into the campaign's final weeks. Democrats see the district as one of their best chances in the nation to pick up a Republican-held seat.

MacArthur and Belgard are vying for a seat representing much of Burlington and Ocean counties. The incumbent, U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R., N.J.) is retiring.

POSTED: Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 7:05 PM

WASHINGTON – Two political groups backed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg have thrown their support behind suburban Philadelphia Republican Congressmen Pat Meehan and Mike Fitzpatrick.

Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and a lightning rod for criticism from the right, has vowed to support lawmakers who back tougher gun laws and centrists. Meehan, of Delaware County, and Fitzpatrick, of Bucks County, appear to match both priorities.

Bloomberg’s Independence USA political action committee, which supports centrists, plan to support Fitzpatrick as part of a national $25 million spending burst aiding candidates from both parties, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Fitzpatrick (like Meehan) has voted for several key compromises in the House – including bills to avert the so-called fiscal cliff and end last year’s government shutdown -- helping pass bipartisan deals over the objection of more hard-line Republicans who argued for strictly adhering to conservative principles.

POSTED: Monday, October 6, 2014, 4:18 PM

WASHINGTON – National Democrats have canceled television ad buys in two Congressional races in suburban Pennsylvania, signaling that the races may have slipped out of reach as the party shifts money to other races that appear more competitive.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has canceled ad reservations in the Chester County-based sixth district, where Democrat Manan Trivedi is running against Republican Ryan Costello, and in the Bucks County-based eighth district, where U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) faces a challenge from Democrat Kevin Strouse, once billed as a star DCCC recruit.

The cancellation, first reported by Politico, comes as Democrats scramble to protect incumbents, rather than trying to gain ground in a year that looks strong for Republicans. The change also arrives as political forecasters say the local races in potential swing districts are looking more and more likely to be won by the GOP.

POSTED: Monday, October 6, 2014, 12:27 PM
Cory Booker and Jeff Bell (Getty Images/AP)

WASHINGTON – New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker leads his Republican challenger Jeff Bell by 15 points among likely voters, according to a Monmouth University Poll out Monday.

The poll gives Booker the largest lead among the public surveys released so far – others had him up by around 10 or 11. Monmouth was closest to the mark last year when public polls had a wide range of predictions for Booker’s race against Steve Lonegan.

Booker, a Democrat, won backing from 53 percent of those polled, while Bell got 38 percent. Others said they would support a third party candidate or were undecided.

About this blog

Jonathan Tamari is the Inquirer’s Washington correspondent. He writes about the lawmakers, politics and policy that affect Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Tamari previously covered the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL. Before that he worked in Trenton, reporting on the characters and color of New Jersey state government. He lives in Washington.

Reach Jonathan at jtamari@phillynews.com.

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