POINT PLEASANT Shaughnessy Naughton, a Democratic candidate in a congressional race expected to draw national attention next year, will be supported by EMILY's List, a Washington-based group that backs pro-choice Democratic women candidates.
Naughton, 37, will receive financial and political support from the organization, which also highlighted her candidacy in 2014, when she unsuccessfully ran for the same Bucks-based House seat.
That seat will be open in 2016 because Republican incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick is stepping down due to self-imposed term limits.
The rare opportunity to compete for an unoccupied seat, combined with the fact that the election will occur in a moderate district during a presidential contest, has led political observers to say the race will be a top national target for both parties - and an expensive one.
EMILY's List donated nearly $5 million to causes it supported in 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and more than $8 million on independent expenditures for its preferred candidates.
Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY's List, said in a statement that it believed Naughton would be committed to causes it cares about, including women's health and environmental issues.
"In Congress, she'll use her unique background as a scientist to stand up for women's health and to hold Republicans accountable for their attacks on the environment," Schriock said. Naughton previously worked as a breast cancer researcher for a pharmaceutical company.
Naughton is competing with State Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D., Bucks) to be the Democratic nominee in the Eighth District. Republicans are sorting through potential candidates. - Chris Palmer