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Inquirer endorsements in New Jersey

Each year, primary season reveals a dearth of viable minority-party candidates for voters to consider. That's whether the dominant party in a district is Democratic or Republican. That means New Jersey voters must scour every source of information to make wise choices on June 8. In the congressional primaries, only the incumbents are likely to be familiar names.

As a guide, the editorial board makes these recommendations:

In the First District, The Inquirer endorses DALE GLADING in the Republican primary. He was the party's nominee in 2008, and again is the strongest GOP candidate to emerge in the heavily Democratic district that includes much of Camden County and parts of Burlington and Gloucester Counties.

Glading, of Barrington, runs a national prison ministry. He has moderate positions on some issues, including immigration reform, and says he will reach across party lines. He gets credit for wisely reconsidering his support of offshore drilling, in light of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Others seeking the Republican nomination are Lee Lucas of Gibbstown, Fernando Powers of Blackwood, and Loran Oglesby of Sewell. The GOP winner is almost guaranteed to face incumbent Rep. Rob Andrews, who is seeking his 12th term. Andrews' opposition in the Democratic primary is John Caramanna of Blackwood.

In the Second District, eight-term incumbent Republican Rep. FRANK LoBIONDO easily deserves an endorsement. LoBiondo has ably represented the sprawling district that includes all or parts of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties. In a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2-to-1, LoBiondo has mastered bipartisanship and refreshing appeals to voters from both parties.

LoBiondo is opposed in the GOP primary by Donna Ward, a former freelance court reporter from Mantua who also ran against him in 2008, and political newcomer Linda Biamonte, of Northfield, an advertising executive. Gary Stein of Mullica Township is unopposed in the district's Democratic primary.

The 3d District's Republican primary is getting a lot of attention because it includes former Philadelphia Eagles player Jon Runyan, who faces Tabernacle attorney Justin Murphy.

The two match up pretty evenly in their positions, but because he seems to have a better grasp of the issues before Congress, the endorsement goes to JUSTIN MURPHY. Navy veteran Murphy came in a close third in his 2008 bid for this same nomination. The district includes parts of Burlington, Camden and Ocean Counties.

On the Democratic side, incumbent Rep. JOHN ADLER is endorsed. Two years ago, the former state senator replaced Republican Congressman Jim Saxton, who, after holding the seat for 24 years did not seek reelection.
Adler's opponent is Barry Bendar, the municipal chairman in Lacey Township since 2004. A supporter of term limits, he has not made a strong case against Adler.

In the Fourth District, incumbent CHRIS SMITH gets the endorsement in the GOP primary against challenger Alan Bateman, a health-care consultant making a second run for Congress. Howard Kleinhendler of Lakewood is unopposed on the Democratic side.

Smith has been a solid representative for the district, which includes all or parts of Burlington, Mercer, and Ocean Counties. He has been an advocate for veterans rights and has taken principled stands for human rights. Smith has a deserved reputation for standing up to his own party, despite the political risks.