WASHINGTON -- A moderate Republican congressman from New Jersey announced Wednesday he would not seek reelection in 2014 – a possible consequence of last month’s 16-day government shutdown.
Rep. Jon Runyan, a second-term lawmaker who represents a district that stretches from the suburbs of Philadelphia on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River to the Atlantic coastline, said in a statement that spending time with his family was "my top priority."
"Politics shouldn't be a career and I never intended to make it one," said Runyan, a towering former pro football player whose career included a stint with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Runyan is one of only 16 Republican members of the House who represents a district in which President Obama won in the 2012 election. He won reelection last year by 9 percentage points while Obama carried the district by 4 points over Mitt Romney. Runyan was first elected in the 2010 Republican tsunami, defeating a Democratic incumbent.
Runyan was among a group of moderates who most felt the squeeze of the shutdown that resulted from the party’s strategy of seeking to undercut the president’s health law in the recent budget fight. Democrats in the district attacked him for supporting the shutdown, while conservative Republicans went after him for not supporting it ardently enough.
Democrats say Runyan is just the latest Republican to “bail from Speaker [John A.] Boehner’s sinking ship,” and that the district offers a prime opportunity to pick up a seat.
“Congressman Jon Runyan saw the writing on the wall in the Virginia governor’s race: Swing voters want no part of the reckless and irresponsible agenda that House Republicans have been pushing for years,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, referring to Terry McAuliffe’s victory that analysts say was aided by the shutdown impact.
Runyan becomes the fifth Republican to opt against seeking reelection, but the first from such a competitive seat. The chairman of House Republicans’ campaign committee, Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, simply wished Runyan and his family “all the best as they start the next chapter of their lives.”
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