Christie backs LoBiondo for reelection

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo will seek an 11th term from the Second District.
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo will seek an 11th term from the Second District. (AP)
Posted: January 08, 2014

TRENTON Gov. Christie on Monday endorsed U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo for reelection, saying he would use his political muscle and fund-raising prowess to help keep the longtime congressman in Washington.

"I'm all in on this one, people," Christie said at a Statehouse news conference alongside LoBiondo, a Republican like the governor. "I am going to be working politically. . . . My organization is going to be engaged in helping to raise money and keep together the great coalition that we had together in South Jersey."

LoBiondo is in his 10th term representing the Second District, which runs from parts of Burlington and Gloucester Counties through Cape May.

He quickly drew criticism from both an opponent and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for making a campaign appearance in Trenton, outside his district.

"The mere fact he had to run up to Trenton to announce his reelection rather than do it in his own district is a sign he is trying to run on the coattails of Chris Christie's record rather than his own 20-year record of saying one thing and doing another," said Bill Hughes Jr., a Democrat running for the seat. Hughes' father held the seat for 20 years before retiring in 1995, and LoBiondo has occupied it since.

The DCCC added: "Apparently Congressman Frank LoBiondo couldn't find anyone in his own district who wants to reelect him."

LoBiondo dismissed the criticism. "Maybe they don't like the idea that the most popular governor in the country is willing to take time out of his day to make an announcement like this, that he doesn't normally do," he said.

LoBiondo said he could not ignore the serious challenge that the Democratic committee appears to be making. "If you don't take it seriously," LoBiondo said, he could be "sending the wrong message."

Christie said LoBiondo was the first person to endorse him in the 2009 gubernatorial primary and a "key person" in helping him win.

He also praised LoBiondo for his efforts to secure federal funding for Sandy relief and more recently for working to make New Jersey one of six testing sites for integrating drones into the airspace. (New Jersey filed a joint application with Virginia.)

In a statement, Hughes accused LoBiondo of banding with the tea party to shut down the government last fall and also said LoBiondo had reneged on a promise to serve no more than 12 years in Congress.

Asked about term limits Monday, LoBiondo said, "I love what I do."

Republicans, meantime, are trying to tie Hughes to the Affordable Care Act and its troubles.

Some South Jersey Democrats have yet to commit to a candidate. Last month, the chairs of six county Democratic committees in the district said they would not make an endorsement until State Sen. Jeff Van Drew decided whether to run.

"I understand why they're doing what they're doing. I'm proceeding with my campaign. I have all the respect in the world for Sen. Van Drew," Hughes said.

Van Drew's chief of staff did not respond to a message seeking comment Monday afternoon.


aseidman@phillynews.com

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@AndrewSeidman

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