3 area congressional races listed among nation's most noteworthy
July 19, 2012By Elizabeth Fiedler
Three local congressional races are included in a new top 75 list of competitions across the country. The rankings from the National Journal catalog important races and individual seats that might flip.
In search of a Delaware Valley candidate on the list, Scott Bland, the editor of National Journal's House Race Hotline, pointed halfway down the list to Republican Mike Fitzpatrick of Bucks County.
"He has a challenger -- Kathy Boockvar -- who's been tapped by the Democratic Campaign Committee in Washington as one of its premiere candidates," Bland said. "Fitzpatrick has done a fairly good job voting his district in Congress -- he's split off from the Republican majority more often than most."
Down at No. 49 is Republican Jon Runyan's struggle to keep New Jersey's 3rd District. The former Philadelphia Eagle is being challenged by Democrat Shelley Adler, the widow of the late Congressman John Adler, whom Runyan ousted two years ago.
"There's an obvious emotional pull there for the district," Bland says. "The district did get a little more friendly to Republicans after redistricting -- not overwhelmingly, but the district voted 52 percent for President Obama under the old line and under the new lines that's down to around 51."
The race rated No. 68, pitting incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach and Democrat Manan Trivedi in a district stretching from Lower Merion to Reading, caught the eye of Brigid Callahan Harrison, a professor of political science and law at Montclair State University in New Jersey.
"Overwhelmingly, most House members who chose to run for re-election succeed. This, on the whole, tends to be an interesting year because it's the year in which redistricting took place and some of the districts did change," she said. "But I think the Gerlach inclusion is a bit of a stretch."
Rutgers political science professor Ross Baker said lists like this can be useful for some candidates.
"Someone who is in a swing seat can use that as fundraising leverage," he said. "You know, going to people who support either Democrats or Republicans and saying, 'Look ,this is a swing district, this could go either way. I need your money!'"