Coupled with the GOP's ouster of freshman Democratic Congressman Herbert Klein in the Eighth District, LoBiondo's victory gives New Jersey Republicans an 8-5 advantage in the state's congressional delegation. Democrats had held the majority since 1964.
Even more important, LoBiondo and William Martini, the Passaic County freeholder who unseated Klein, will go to Washington as members of the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives. The GOP also seized control of the U.S. Senate in yesterday's dramatic repudiation of President Clinton and the Democratic congressional leadership.
LoBiondo, 48, will replace Democrat William J. Hughes, a 10-term incumbent who was elected in the backlash against then-President Nixon in 1974. Hughes was one of a number of incumbent Democrats who decided not to seek re-election this year.
LoBiondo, a Vineland businessman and one of the state Legislature's most conservative lawmakers, vowed in declaring victory at the Sons of North Italy Hall that he would "bring government back into the real world - the business world - and that's what Congress has been lacking for years."
In declaring his landslide victory, Andrews told a jubilant crowd at Camden County Democratic headquarters that he had overcome attempts by Gov. Whitman and the state Republican Party to defeat him.
Whitman and the state GOP lured Hogan into the race, believing he could cut into the 67 percent victory margin Andrews rang up in 1992. But sensing early on that their effort was futile, chiefly because of the Democrats' 2-1 registration advantage in the district, they failed to generate the money Hogan needed to run a campaign. And Hogan did little to contest Andrews' bid for a third term.
In thanking his supporters, Andrews singled out former county chairman George E. Norcross for special praise. Andrews said that Norcross, although ''no longer officially involved" in party affairs, "was involved every step of the way in my campaign. He is a great friend and a great political leader."
The victory for Andrews, 37, fortifies his position as a Democrat to watch in future statewide elections. He has acknowledged an interest in running for governor, though when he decides to make his move depends largely on Gov. Whitman's popularity in 1997.
For LoBiondo, only a year ago a little-known state lawmaker, the Second District win makes him one of the state's most high-profile Republicans.
LoBiondo's triumph climaxed an improbable political odyssey that began with his loss to Hughes two years ago.
He defied the Republican establishment earlier this year, refusing to step aside for State Sen. William L. Gormley of Atlantic County, who decided to seek the congressional nomination after Hughes decided to retire.
LoBiondo went on to crush the politically moderate Gormley in the June primary, defeating him by 20 percentage points with a textbook campaign that linked Gormley to the policies of former Gov. Jim Florio.
LoBiondo's lopsided victory transformed him into a political powerhouse within the district and made him the prohibitive favorite to replace Hughes. Eager to be with the presumed winner, contributors - including typically Democratic unions - poured big money into his campaign.
A former Cumberland County freeholder, he was first elected to the State Assembly in 1987. Though never considered one of the legislature's more prominent members, he staked out a rigidly conservative posture that served him well in the bedrock conservative Republican district.
A champion of the gun lobby, LoBiondo was a prime mover of the attempt to overturn the assault weapons ban enacted under Florio. He also has criticized environmental controls in the Pinelands and has called for relaxed government regulations on business.
Like his Republican soulmates across the country, LoBiondo has campaigned for Congress on a platform that rules out tax increases and espouses taking an ax to the federal budget. He also vowed to support term limits for members of Congress, a balanced-budget amendment and the line-item veto.
His opponent's campaign, meanwhile, never caught fire. After outlasting a weak field for the Democratic nomination, Magazzu ran into a brick wall trying to raise money and increase his name recognition. After a summer poll showed him trailing by 30 percentage points, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decided to send its money elsewhere, especially to endangered incumbents, beginning with House Speaker Tom Foley.
Magazzu said last night that he did "everything I could" in the face of ''the Republican momentum that is sweeping the country." He vowed to continue speaking out for campaign finance reform and improvements to the nation's criminal justice and health care systems.
The Second District, the largest congressional district in the state in terms of geography, covers the Shore from Brigantine south to Cape May and then stretches west to include all of Cape May, Cumberland and Salem Counties, as well as the southern portion of Gloucester County.
In giving Andrews a landslide victory, First District voters kept the ambitious congressman on a course that some believe could lead to a run either for governor or the U.S. Senate.
A former director of the Camden County Board of Freeholders, Andrews was elected to the congressional seat vacated by former Gov. Jim Florio in 1990. After a competitive first campaign, Andrews demolished his Republican opposition to win a second term in 1992, and was installed as a rising star in state politics.
A shrewd politician, Andrews has shed most of his early liberal leanings and now steers a moderate-to-conservative course, a posture designed to appeal to a statewide audience that is more conservative than his district, which encompasses the predominantly working-class towns in Camden and northern Gloucester Counties.
Andrews also is not one to stay on a sinking ship. The congressman was quick to abandon Florio after the former Democratic governor instituted his widely vilified tax package in 1991. And though he was one of Bill Clinton's earliest supporters during the 1992 presidential primary season, Andrews began distancing himself from Clinton when his presidency began to unravel.
Andrews voted against the president's first budget, which raised some taxes, and opposed the administration-backed North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.
In addition to antagonizing the White House, Andrews infuriated fellow congressional Democrats earlier this year by lending his name to a GOP- sponsored measure to force federal spending cuts. Many view the so-called ''A to Z" proposal as a gimmick that would circumvent serious debate on the budget.
Andrews' aggressive support for the proposal triggered an extraordinary barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats, including three from the New Jersey congressional delegation, who publicly called him a hypocrite and grandstander.
Burning those bridges could come back to haunt Andrews in a statewide party primary. But he is trying to position himself as an alternative to the party's stable of more liberal prospective statewide candidates, such as Ninth District Congressman Robert G. Torricelli, who also was easily re-elected yesterday.
(99% of the vote)
*Robert E. Andrews (D) 105,194
James N. Hogan (R) 40,299
(100% of the vote)
Frank A. LoBiondo (R) 101,160
Louis N. Magazzu (D) 55,420
(98% of the vote)
Arthur Fulvio Croce (DIA) 1,098
D. James Hill (UWS) 2,926
*Jim Saxton (R) 112,296
James E. Smith (D) 53,018
Arnold Kokans (NLP) 1,245
Leonard P. Marshall (NJC) 1,686
*Christopher H. Smith (R) 107,617
Ralph Walsh (D) 48,723
*Incumbent. DIA-Democracy In Action. L-Libertarian. NJC-New Jersey Conservative Party. NLP-Natural Law Party. UWS-United We Serve.