Republican congressional candidate Jon Runyan seems to be tearing a page out of the Contract With America, a 1994 campaign document that helped Republicans gain control of Congress for the first time in 40 years.

Since the June 8 primary for the Third Congressional District seat that covers parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties and that includes Cherry Hill in Camden County, the former Eagles tackle has called for term limits and a balanced budget. Both were part of the 1994 campaign and both eventually failed.

Chris Russell, Runyan's campaign consultant, said Runyan was reacting to voter frustration, not simply reaching back to the GOP's glory days.

"People feel powerless. They go to the polls and vote on Election Day and feel like whoever they put in, nothing changes," Russell said.

The renewed GOP ideas, he said, "are coming to the floor again because by walking away from those things in 1994, they did a disservice to the country."

Runyan's opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. John Adler, who opposes term limits, indicated that if his Republican predecessor, U.S. Rep. James Saxton, had been subject to a term limit, the district's mega-military base never would not exist.

"If there were term limits, the nation's first triservice joint base might be in another state," Adler's campaign manager, Geoff Mackler, said in an e-mailed statement.

Saxton was in office 24 years and is credited with helping combine Fort Dix, McGuire Air Force Base, and the Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station into what is now known as Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

The project took years at a time when the military was closing and cutting back bases around the country.

Adler also favors a balanced budget and has voted against some spending bills.

As for Runyan, he says term limits are necessary because Washington has become too self-referential. "People are so entrenched in Washington and Trenton," he said. "It's broken and it's obvious we need to do something."

Runyan isn't alone in calling for the balanced budget or term limits this year.

Andy Harris, a Republican running in Maryland's First District, which covers the Eastern Shore area, wants a constitutional amendment limiting congressional terms. Stephen Fincher, a Republican running in Tennessee, also calls for limits.

"It's back to the future. I'm seeing this all over the country," said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist who keeps an eye on federal races. "Republicans are hoping it's 1994 all over again for two reasons: They sense a Republican wave and just as in 1994, they have a third force in politics."

The third force in 1994 was independent presidential candidate Ross Perot's followers, many of whom were conservative Republicans. This time it's the tea partiers, who draw from the GOP's right wing.

"Things like term limits have a permanent appeal," Sabato said. "In fact, it has more appeal today than in 1994 because we have 50 additional scandals, maybe 100."

That adds to voter frustration in this midterm election year, when 80 House seats, including Adler's, are in play.

In 1994, Republicans capitalized on former President Bill Clinton's decline in the polls to win eight Senate seats and 54 House seats. This time around, they would need 39 House seats and 10 Senate seats to capture Congress, an unlikely outcome, according to most analysts.

Still, most believe Republicans will gain ground this year.

Rider University political scientist Ben Dworkin called Runyan's appeals "pretty standard Republican stuff, and it has been around for a while, including when the Republicans were in charge of Congress and the White House and they didn't get it done then."

Yet those issues still appeal to voters in the Third Congressional District, which was in Republican hands for more than a century before Adler won it in 2008.

"It's largely a Republican district, so it's not a mistake to use it," he said.

Fundamentally, though, Sabato says nobody knows how the fall elections will be resolved or whether these issues will sway voters.

"It's June; it's impossible to know," he said.

Contact staff writer Cynthia Burton at 856-779-3858 or