In early February, Congressman Rob Andrews (D-NJ1) announced that he would resign from Congress after over two decades. Andrews has been the subject of ethics investigations the last couple years. He would cite that aspect as well as the slim chances Democrats have of retaking the U.S. House as not being reasons for his resignation. However, it seems his main reason for resigning is to go lead Dilworth Paxson, a law firm that specializes in government relations that his wife once worked for and is run by partners who were at his wedding.
Andrews entered Congress in 1990 in a special election to replace Jim Florio, who was elected governor. If he stayed in Congress to see the Democrats regain control in the U.S. House and avoided any issues with the ethics investigations connected to his name, Andrews had a great chance to become the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee with the retirement of Congressman George Miller from California.
Not long after Andrews' resignation, the attention was quickly turning to whom would be the leading Democratic nominee to replace him. State Senator Donald Norcross (D-5) would emerge as the prime candidate to replace Andrews. He would even garner Andrews' endorsement. Norcross' brother, George, is one of the state's more powerful Democrats.
It did not come as a surprise then that Norcross would make his candidacy official within hours of Andrews' announcement. Besides his brother and Andrews; Norcross picked up the support of Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3), Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-6), and state Senator Fred Madden (D-4) shortly after his announcement.
I am running for Congress because South Jersey needs someone who is going to stand up for us in Washington, D.C., as Rob Andrews has done for more than two decades. I have spent my career fighting for middle class families, senior citizens and workers. It is a sad truth that while some are doing better, too many are falling further behind. If elected to Congress, I will focus on creating jobs across South Jersey and an equal opportunity for everyone. My father believed that every child deserved a good education and every worker deserved a fair shake. Those are the principles and priorities I took with me to Trenton and will take with me to Washington, DC if I am elected. As a constituent and a friend, I thank Rob Andrews for his service. I hope that if I am elected, I can carry on the fine work he did for the people of the First District. I believe that our best days are ahead.
Joining what was looking like a Democratic rallying effort around Norcross was Camden Mayor Donna Redd.
Redd would express,
I am truly thankful and grateful for everything Congressman Rob Andrews has done as our representative in Washington, DC. Time and time again, he has delivered on his promises to ensure Camden, the First Congressional District and all of New Jersey received its fair share of federal funding. His commitment, appreciation and love of what it meant to be a public servant will surely be missed by many. I am extremely proud to call him a friend and I wish him nothing but success in all his future endeavors. Although we are losing a great representative, we are very fortunate to have a person who has a proven track record that can step right in and continue to fight for our children and families. This person is our State Senator, Donald Norcross. As a labor leader and state legislator, Senator Norcross understands the struggles many of our hard working families face each day. As a co-sponsor of the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, Senator Norcross also knows that the key to achieving economic prosperity begins by creating jobs within our urban centers such as Camden. I am pleased and honored to support Senator Donald Norcross as our next Congressman from the First Congressional District.
Logan Township Mayor Frank Minor would also throw his name into potential consideration.
As Minor would voice,
I think that people should have a choice.
Minor was among names in the shuffle last year for Barbara Buono's lieutenant governor nominee.
Frank Broomell from Sicklerville has also thrown his name in the running on the Democratic side.
While it looked like Norcross probably would not be the only Democratic candidate, it was certainly looking like nearly every important Democrat was continuing to boost Norcross' candidacy. The list of endorsements would grow to include both Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) along with the 5 Democratic congressmen besides Andrews and many other state and local officials.
The growing admiration and support would lead Norcross to exclaim,
I am truly honored to have received these significant endorsements in my campaign for Congress. As someone who spent my earlier career as a union electrician working on high tension wires, the tops of major bridges, and other dangerous workplaces, it is a very humbling experience to enjoy this depth of support in my continued fight for South Jersey’s struggling middle class. Make no mistake about it, I am a proud Pennsauken boy who never forgot where he came from. Being a fighter for people is not a cliché or a cheap political slogan to me. It’s who I’ve always been prior to entering public life. As Congressman, I will work to provide world class educational and vocational training opportunities so our kids can compete in the ever-evolving global economy. As I’ve done quite successfully in Trenton, I will work with Democrats and Republicans in Washington to ensure that New Jersey gets its fair share from the extraordinary amount of taxes we pay back to the federal government. I will also work with business and industry to lure the kinds of good-paying, family-sustaining jobs that South Jersey needs most right now. I get results. Now let’s get to work.
As it looked like Norcross was the favorite to win the Democratic nomination, former Philadelphia Eagle and radio host Garry Cobb announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination.
In announcing his campaign, Cobb would utter;
The GOP, in a lot of cases, hasn't proved to people they care about people ... I care about people. We have got to give kids an opportunity to work, families a chance to make it. We can’t just have frivolous spending and too much regulation. We've got to create an atmosphere for businesses so they can hire people. I’m not really intimated by the (Norcross) machine. I’m about people. People have an idea of who I am, but I have some things to prove, and I really don’t want to wait until the election really to start doing things.
Congressman Jon Runyan (R-NJ3) is retiring this year after a two terms in office and it looks like another former Eagle is trying to replace among New Jersey's congressional delegation.
Cobb is not alone on the Republican side as Lee Lucas, Gerald McManus, and Claire H. Gustafson have also announced their intentions to run. The three are not well known and while Cobb is not greatly known himself; his role as a former football player and current radio personality will likely help him stand out.
Thus, as an open race to replace Congressman Andrews wages on; it looks like Norcross is poised to win and his support base will certainly make every effort to see that he is sent to Congress this year.