TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey residents re-elected 11 incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday and voted to send the son of a longtime late congressman to Washington to fill the seat his father had held.
There wasn't much drama in the races, which left New Jersey's House delegation evenly split with six Republicans and six Democrats.
The only newcomer is Democrat Donald Payne Jr., who had a large margin of victory to take the Newark-centered 10th District seat formerly held by his father, who died this year. Payne won both a special election to serve the rest of this term and an election to a full term starting in January. Both victories came over Republican opponents who did not mount ambitious campaigns.
The most closely watched race was in the 3rd District, where Republican Jon Runyan retained his seat after being challenged by Democratic former Cherry Hill Councilwoman Shelley Adler. Adler's late husband, John Adler, held the seat for one term before he was defeated by Runyan, a former Philadelphia Eagles lineman. John Adler fell ill with an infection in the tissue around his heart last year and died at 51.
Adler, 53, a Harvard-educated lawyer, had some of the same campaign staffers and a similar message: She would fight to preserve Social Security and Medicare and would do more to help the middle class.
Runyan, 38, campaigned on the platform that the best way to improve government finances is to spur the economy by reducing taxes. He opposed any changes for Social Security and Medicare for anyone over 55.
Runyan said the last two months of his current term will be eventful with major tax issues to be determined. He said conditions are now better for reaching agreements in a largely gridlocked Congress even though the political dynamics remain the same with the House still in Republican control and Democrats still holding the Senate and the White House.
"You know what we've removed from it? The campaign," he said. "That's the hope we have there, you take that out of the equation."
Democrat Bill Pascrell won in northern New Jersey's 9th District over Republican Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who is best known as Michael Jackson's former spiritual adviser and the author of such books as "Kosher Sex" and the reality TV show "Shalom in the Home."
"I got the people's back," Pascrell said in an interview. "I'm anxious to get back to my job."
Other Democrats to win re-election were Rob Andrews in the 1st District in the Philadelphia suburbs; Rush Holt in the 12th District and Frank Pallone in the 6th District, both in the central part of the state; and Albio Sires in northern New Jersey's 8th District.
Voters re-elected Republicans Frank LoBiondo in southern New Jersey's 2nd District; Chris Smith in the 4th District and Leonard Lance in the 7th District, both in central New Jersey; and Scott Garrett in the 5th District and Rodney Frelinghuysen in the 11th, both in the northern part of the state.
The state's districts are generally safe for incumbents, but they were redrawn last year to make them even more so — though New Jersey was squeezed out of one seat in Washington because of its slow population growth.
Associated Press writer Katie Zezima contributed to this report.