Six Democratic county chairmen signed a letter stating they will wait for state Sen. Jeff Van Drew to decide if he’s running for Congress before they endorse a Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District.

The letter was signed by chairmen in Salem, Cape May, Cumberland, Burlington, Gloucester and Camden.

“As a chairman, it’s my job to make sure we have the best candidates possible,” Salem County Democratic Committee Chairman Steven H. Caltabiano said in a statement released Monday. “Senator Van Drew has proven he can win the most Republican part of our Congressional District.”

Caltabiano said the letter is not meant to be disrespectful to anyone that has announced, rather it’s to make sure the committee gives Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, “a proven winner who has worked tirelessly in South Jersey,” the opportunity to be considered.

In late-October, Democrat Bill Hughes Jr., the son of former U.S. Rep. William Hughes and a lawyer from Northfield, announced his candidacy for the congressional seat.

The Democratic nominee will challenge longtime Republican incumbent Rep. Frank LoBiondo in 2014 for the state's eight-county 2nd Congressional District, which includes Atlantic, Cumberland and Salem counties and parts of Ocean, Gloucester, Burlington and Camden counties.

Van Drew wasn’t available for comment Tuesday, but his chief of staff, Allison Murphy, said it’s flattering to hear that the county chairmen are willing to wait for Van Drew, and she sees why they would.

“He has a proven track record of getting votes in difficult districts,” Murphy said.

Van Drew has yet to make an official decision on whether he will run, but he plans to do so in the next few weeks, she said.

The letter from the Democratic county chairmen pointed out that Van Drew won re-election in November with a 20-point victory in a district that Gov. Chris Christie carried by a wide margin.

“The fact that the Governor won Cape May County by almost 50-points is particularly indicative of Senator Van Drew’s cross-party appeal and ability to get votes from all over the political spectrum,” it said.

Contact Elisa Lala:

609-272-7260

@ElisaLala on Twitter