State Sen. Jeff Van Drew announced Wednesday his intention to run for Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District in 2018.
Van Drew, who represents all of Cape May County and parts of Atlantic and Cumberland counties in the state Legislature, will look to take over the seat retiring U.S. Rep.Frank LoBiondo will vacate next year.
LoBiondo announced earlier this month he will retire at the end of his term and not seek re-election in 2018. He has been in Congress since 1995, when he succeeded Democrat Bill Hughes.
There are no announced Republican candidates yet.
“It will be the honor of a lifetime to represent South Jersey in Congress, especially at a time when our country most needs consensus builders,” Van Drew said in a statement. “Expect to hear a lot from me during this campaign about finding common ground. It won’t be easy or always even possible, but that must never stop us from making the effort.”
Speaking in a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Van Drew expressed the need to forcefully represent South Jersey, which he said can be left behind when dealing with the state.
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He also said that, if elected, he would seek spots on committees that deal with the fishing industry, farming or casinos.
“There is a (part of) New Jersey that has more opportunity, and God bless them,” Van Drew said. “We’re a little bit different (in South Jersey), so we have to show what our needs are.”
Van Drew is the third Democrat to announce a candidacy for the seat. In July, Tanzie Youngblood, a retired educator and longtime resident of Woolwich, Gloucester County, announced she would run.
“I welcome Jeff Van Drew to the race. We need to find real solutions to the issues impacting the everyday lives of the people of New Jersey’s 2nd District,” Youngblood said in a statement. “I look forward to hearing his views and debating the issues with him in the months to come.”
In June, Sean A. Thom, a Cumberland County resident who serves as a school administrator in Camden, announced he would seek the seat.
Thom expressed concern about Van Drew’s candidacy in a letter to the Democratic National Committee.
“Not because it would bring additional competition to the race — competition helps spur innovation and gives the people a real choice — but because Jeff Van Drew has shown time and time again he is not a Democrat; instead, he is a career politician who does not espouse the values of our party,” the letter reads.
It is still unclear who Republicans may nominate in the race.
Outgoing Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian has been contacted by the National Republican Congressional Committee and is considering a run, according to his chief of staff, Chris Filiciello.
“He’s exploring all of his options,” Filiciello said, adding Guardian will make a decision next month. “It’s another way to help and represent the people of Atlantic City and South Jersey.”
Former Assemblyman Vince Polistina has also been contacted and is considering a run, according to reports.
Bob Turkavage, a former FBI agent and current Brigantine resident, said he is thinking about running and has reached out to the NRCC and Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis.
Chris Brown, who was elected to the state Senate earlier this month, said he will not run for Congress.
“A representative from the National Republican Congressional Committee reached out to me shortly after the election,” Brown said in a statement. “While it’s an honor to be considered to run, I just worked very hard during the campaign telling the families of Atlantic County I want to serve them as their state senator, and I am blessed our local middle-class families put their faith in me to represent them, which is why I am focused on doing my best as their representative in the State Senate.”