New Jersey’s sixth congressional district was drawn Democratic, and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) has won by more than 2-1 margins in each of the last five campaigns. Barack Obama won it 60%-38%, and John Kerry carried it 57%-43% in 2004. But in the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Christopher Christie beat Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine by eight percentage points, 51%-43%. Christie’s success has caused two-term GOP Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Ocean Twp.) to consider challenging Pallone – his first real race since Mike Ferguson took him on twelve years ago.
Republicans are not convinced that they can beat Pallone, but they are certain they want to force him to spend a chunk of his $4 million war chest that he has been saving in case a United States Senate seat comes up. And Christie, who has discussed the race with Angelini, sees the 2010 campaign as an opportunity to pay back Pallone for taking the lead on the federal monitor and deferred prosecution agreements issue.
Angelini would have a tough time against Pallone, who is exponentially stronger than Corzine was, but she might view it as an investment of her time if 2012 redistricting creates a stronger opportunity for Republicans against Pallone or Rush Holt (D-Hopewell).
Christie also carried the districts of two other Democratic congressmen: he won 56%-39% in the third district, where John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) is seeking a second term; and he won 52%-42% in District 12, where two Republicans are battling for the chance to take on Holt.