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Cook Report: LoBiondo seat “Leans Democratic”

By David Wildstein

The Cook Political Report has moved Republican Frank LoBiondo’s 2nd district House seat from Toss Up to Leans Democratic.

LoBiondo is retiring after 24 years in Congress, and the leading candidate is State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a Democrat who regularly wins big numbers in Republican areas.   Republicans have been unable to recruit a top-tier candidate to replace LoBiondo.

Van Drew, a slightly right-of-center Democrat, faces three primary challengers who are campaigning against him from the left: retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood, activist Sean Thom, and former congressional aide Will Cunningham.  The Republican field includes: ex-FBI agent Robert Turksavage; attorney John Zarych; Trump activist Mark McGovern; and Brian Fitzherbert, a systems engineer for a defense contractor.

The Cook Political Report is a respected non-partisan newsletter that analyzes political campaigns.  Previous rankings have the open seat race for Rodney Frelinghuysen in the 11th district as a toss up.  So far, the report has incumbents Tom MacArthur and Leonard Lance as Leans Republican, and Josh Gottheimer as Leans Democrat.

Cook Report House Race editor, Somerset County native David Wasserman, says became of the Republican redistricting advantage, “Democrats probably need at least a six or seven point lead on the generic ballot to win the majority, thanks to the GOP’s redistricting edge and Democratic voters’ tendency to cluster and waste votes in safe districts.”

“Republican leaders believe they can save their majority with a four-pronged approach: emphasize strong economic fundamentals, a muscular national security posture, opposition research against untested first-time Democratic candidates and the possible return of Nancy Pelosi as speaker,” Wasserman said. “But historically, it’s been difficult to frame midterms as anything other than referenda on the president and party in charge.

Wasserman shifted the Cook ratings toward Democrats in 21 races nationally this week, something he says “understates Democrats’ potential in individual races.

“If Democrats win the national House vote by six points (as today’s polls indicate), House control would be a coin flip. But according to our new ratings, if each party were to win an even number of Toss Up races, Democrats would only win 13 or 14 seats — ten shy of the 24 they need,” said Wasserman.

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