Van Drew and Grossman

Republican Seth Grossman, left, and Democrat Jeff Van Drew are campaigning to replace longtime retiring U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo in the 2nd District.

Democrat Jeff Van Drew holds a big lead over Republican Seth Grossman in the race for the seat in South Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, according to a new poll by Stockton University.

The poll, released Wednesday, found Van Drew leads Grossman by 23 points with less than two months remaining before Election Day.

A big reason for the deficit is because Grossman remains unknown to many people outside of Atlantic County. Overall, 60 percent of people polled said they are unfamiliar with the former Atlantic City councilman and Atlantic County freeholder.

About 40 percent of the people polled said they were unfamiliar with Van Drew, who currently serves as the state senator for all of Cape May County and parts of Atlantic and Cumberland counties.

The 2nd Congressional District covers all of Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties and parts of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Ocean counties.

Van Drew has the support of 88 percent of Democrats, while Grossman has the support of only 65 percent of Republicans, the poll found.

Nearly 17 percent of Republicans said they will vote for Van Drew compared with 2 percent of Democrats who said they will vote for Grossman.

In the race for the U.S. Senate, Republican Bob Hugin holds a 10-point lead over Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez among South Jersey voters.

Menendez, who is running for his third term in the senate, has been held down by corruption charges that he faced for allegedly taking illegal gifts in return for political favors.

His corruption trial ended in a hung jury in the spring, but a report by the bipartisan ethics committee in the senate admonished Menendez, saying he “violated Senate rules, federal law and applicable standards of conduct.”

Hugin has used that ethics report in several commercials blasting Menendez, saying he doesn’t deserve another term in the senate.

“This looks like bad news for Senator Menendez and good news for Bob Hugin, but keep in mind that the 2nd District is more rural and more moderate than most of New Jersey,” Michael W. Klein, interim executive director of the Hughes Center, said in a statement.

Mike Suleiman, chairman of the Atlantic County Democratic Committee, said he was surprised to see Menendez trailing by 10 points in the 2nd District, but added that there is still seven weeks until the election.

“Hugin has been running ads since April or May with money from his own fortune. ... Menendez hasn’t had that luxury,” Suleiman said. “But there are going to be advertising initiatives and campaigning that will ramp up around here, so I think that number will come down.”

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