New Jersey's Third Congressional District has been represented by a Republican, a Democrat, and a Republican again in the past six years.
Now, incumbent Republican Jon Runyan, a former Eagles lineman, faces Democrat Shelley Adler, the widow of John Adler, whom Runyan defeated in 2010. Adler died a few months after that election of a heart infection.
Conventional wisdom says Runyan will continue representing the traditionally conservative district that includes much of Burlington and Ocean Counties. But he has a formidable opponent.
Runyan's advocacy for veterans and vote to contain student loan rates are noteworthy, but the 38-year-old Mount Laurel resident has been on the wrong side when it comes to tax and health-care issues affecting his district's increasing senior population. The Inquirer endorses SHELLEY ADLER.
Both Runyan and Adler, 53, have campaigned hard on Medicare. But by voting for the House Republican budget, Runyan has supported a voucher program for future seniors that would strain their budgets. Adler would maintain Medicare, but would force drug companies to lower costs.
A Cherry Hill attorney, Adler would use the tax code to bring jobs home from overseas and extend payroll-tax cuts to those earning less than $1 million. Runyan would extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone. Adler would cut tax breaks for oil companies, while Runyan says he would cut them for all corporations.
Runyan voted against the Affordable Care Act. He says he would repeal it because it costs business too much. Adler takes a much more reasonable position, saying she would not repeal the law, but in addition to it would work to lower health-care costs.
Given a chance to be an independent voice for New Jersey residents, Runyan has instead aligned himself with the tea-party extremists who have made it hard to get bipartisan agreement on anything before Congress. Adler would be more willing to work across the aisle.
In the First District, which covers much of Camden County and parts of Gloucester and Burlington, Rep. Rob Andrews (D., N.J.) has been the subject of a congressional ethics investigation into extravagant spending using funds from his campaign account, including a family trip to Scotland.
The scandal has obscured Andrews' hard work on health-care reform and his eloquent voice for families and education. But since the Republicans didn't put up a credible candidate, The Inquirer, with reservations, endorses ROB ANDREWS, 55, of Haddon Heights.
His Republican opponent, Gregory Horton, 46, of Haddonfield, is an educator who calls for term limits for Congress, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and raising the eligibility age for Medicare. But Horton's sleepy campaign hasn't offered a detailed platform.
In the Second District, which covers parts of six South Jersey counties, the incumbent Republican, FRANK LoBIONDO, easily deserves endorsement for a 10th term. He faces Democrat Cassandra Shober, 45, of Ventnor, a former law-firm office manager who has never held elected office.
LoBiondo, 66, of Ventnor, represents a diverse district where Democrats outnumber Republicans. He has stood up to his party, voting against spending cuts in social programs as he put the interests of constituents first in the state's poorest district. He was wrong in not supporting the health-care law, but LoBiondo has been reliably independent on most issues.