Three South Jersey congressmen seeking new terms should have no trouble being reelected, but there are credible alternatives for voters to consider in two races, which isn't typically the case.
In the First District, which includes Camden, Gloucester, and a small part of Burlington Counties, Democrat Donald Norcross is running for a second two-year term. With help from his brother, George Norcross, one of the most powerful political figures in the state, Norcross' late-blooming political career started on third base. He was elected to the Assembly in 2009, but only kept that seat warm briefly before being appointed to the state Senate that same year. He subsequently won elections to retain that seat; and in 2014 was elected to replace Robert E. Andrews, who resigned from Congress amid an ethics scandal.
Opposing Norcross is Republican Robert Patterson, a thoughtful political neophyte who has big ideas about rebuilding the Camden shipyard, but no good plan to carry them out. The First District would be better served by reelecting DONALD NORCROSS. The former electricians' union official has a better grasp of the district's problems and how Congress can fix them by raising the minimum wage and improving health care.
In the Second District, which includes Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, and parts of four other counties, FRANK LOBIONDO, has made the case for a 12th term. LoBiondo, whose family owns a trucking firm, is that rare Republican who has earned the trust of labor unions. He has defended the Shore's delicate ecological systems and helped save the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Cape May.
LoBiondo is opposed by David Cole, a rising star among Democrats who worked for President Obama and founded a tech company. Cole criticized LoBiondo for being slow to reject bombastic GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. But LoBiondo has a record of crossing party lines when necessary.
In the Third District, which runs through Burlington and Ocean Counties, Democratic nominee Frederick John Lavergne, hounded by debt collectors, has been missing in action. That has left a clear path for Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur. Stressing bipartisanship, MacArthur ran campaign ads on TV with Democratic Sen. Cory A. Booker praising him.
MacArthur instigated an investigation into the federal government's shoddy relief program for victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. MacArthur supports an engineering study of how to save the dying Barnegat Bay by increasing tidal flow. He has worked to protect South Jersey's military installations. TOM MACARTHUR is recommended for a second term based on his attention to the economic and environmental well being of the Third District.