South Jersey residents will have a new representative in Congress in 2019 for the first time since 1995.

The stakes in this year’s general election between Democrat Jeff Van Drew and Republican Seth Grossman, who was leading as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, are high. Democrats have eyed New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District as a key seat they need to flip if the party wants to retake the U.S. House of Representatives.

But despite the political consequences of flipping the House, many of the priorities for residents of the 2nd District — which covers much of South Jersey — will remain unchanged.

Some of the most pressing issues facing the area are the effects of sea-level rise and climate change, the health of the casino industry, taking care of veterans and expanding the aviation industry.

Experts categorize the 2nd District, which covers all of Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties, and parts of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Ocean counties, as a “purple” district, meaning it can swing to either political party depending on the candidates.

The district voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, but voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

“It’s moderate on both sides of the aisle,” said Michael Klein, executive director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University. “It’s also less diverse with African-Americans and Latino voters, which I think is a reason you didn’t see progressive candidates get more support throughout the counties.”

On Monday, outgoing U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, said House races come down to each district.

“It boils down to each individual member on the ballot and how they are doing in their district, how they’ve responded to constituents, how they’re doing with their veterans, and how they are dealing with issues within the district. I think people pay the most attention to that,” he said on 1400 WOND-AM, adding he believes the GOP stands a good chance of holding the House.

In the past 18 months, LoBiondo voted against Republican proposals on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and tax reform, arguing they were not good for South Jersey.

He also has encouraged other Republicans to end the debate on climate change and accept the science behind it, arguing that better economic policy decisions can be made based on “science and quantifiable facts on the ground.”

Former Rep. Bill Hughes, a Democrat who represented the district before LoBiondo, also bucked his party on certain issues, Klein said.

“Both LoBiondo and Hughes were seen as moderates in their parties,” Klein said. “And I think that well represents what the district is like.”

For Democrats, just being able to flip the House is enough to back someone who may not always vote with them, Klein said.

“They really just want to flip the House to get the majority,” Klein said. “The national party is going to be willing to work with (moderates) on certain issues for their district.”

Contact: 609-272-7260 JDeRosier@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressDeRosier

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