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New Jersey Congressman Frank LoBiondo to retire, opening competitive House seat

Jonathan Tamari, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo will not seek re-election next year, according to a New Jersey Republican familiar with his decision, ending a 12-term career in Congress and creating another opening for Democrats as they try to gain control of the House of Representatives.

Congressional election analysts said LoBiondo's retirement would move the Atlantic County-based seat from safely Republican to a pure toss-up.

LoBiondo, a Republican, represents a swing district that sprawls across South Jersey and the Shore, one that supported Barack Obama twice but also backed President Donald Trump last year.

Democrats have long hoped to capture the seat, but have been unable to get close to LoBiondo, who is well-established in the district, having represented the district since 1995.

LoBiondo, 71, has often been at odds with his party's more conservative members in recent years. He voted against the GOP's plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act earlier this year and has said he would oppose the Republican tax plan as it currently stands. But he still drew protests from left-leaning voters who wanted him to hold more public events and speak out more forcefully against Trump.

Two Democrats had filed to challenge him: Sean Thom and Tanzie Youngblood. But LoBiondo's retirement may spark new interest.

State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a Democrat, has long been seen as a potential replacement for LoBiondo in the event of the incumbent's retirement.

It was not immediately clear which Republicans might run. LoBiondo's retirement caught some party leaders by surprise.

LoBiondo's retirement was first reported by South Jersey radio host Harry Hurley.

(c)2017 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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