WASHINGTON – There's more bad news for Democrats who had hoped U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan's decision to retire would help them snatch his South Jersey congressional seat from Republicans.
House Majority PAC, which aims to help Democrats win House races, is moving its advertising buy from the competitive race to replace Runyan – featuring Republican Tom MacArthur and Democrat Aimee Belgard -- to the safe Democratic seat next door, in Camden County.
That means the PAC will instead be helping state Sen. Donald Norcross (D., Camden) as he runs against Republican Garry Cobb in the contest to replace former U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, a Democrat who resigned earlier this year. A spokesman for House Majority PAC confirmed the move in an e-mail but provided no further details.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has made Belgard one of its top recruits, still plans to back her through the final weeks of the campaign, and Democrats in Washington and South Jersey say the race is still within reach.
Still, the PAC shift is a blow for Democrats trying to seize the competitive Burlington and Ocean county district represented by Runyan, which President Obama won in his re-election campaign two years ago. Belgard, a Burlington County freeholder, has received help for weeks from the DCCC, but a recent poll showed her trailing by 10 points and Democrats nationally have said their focus is now on protecting the seats they already hold, rather than trying to gain ground by taking Republican-held districts.
Conservative groups, meanwhile, plan to pour money into the race to help MacArthur.
Norcross is running a deep blue district that has long supported Democrats. South Jersey Democrats, including his brother, political power George Norcross, III, have focused their energy on his race rather than the contest one district over, which had been a top priority of the party's national arm.