Rep. John Adler (D)
New Jersey 3rd District
The Pine Barrens of New Jersey is one of the last vacant spots on the eastern seaboard—not quite terra incognita, but still not thickly populated. Encroached upon by the Philadelphia suburbs of South Jersey on the west and burgeoning retirement developments of the Jersey Shore on the east, the 1 million acres of heavy forest and white sand, with their unusual plant life, are crossed mostly by narrow two-lane roads. There are only a few small towns here, plus Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base. For years, the Pine Barrens was seen as a barrier to development. Only recently have environment-minded Jerseyites come to see the relatively unspoiled area as a natural treasure.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 3rd Congressional District of New Jersey spans the Pine Barrens and thousands of acres of farmland. It includes large parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties and Cherry Hill in Camden County. Most of its residents live in the South Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia; in spread-out Cherry Hill, with its 1960s-vintage shopping centers; in the older towns along the Delaware River or in the newer developments inland toward McGuire. This is comfortable, but not affluent, suburban territory. Lockheed Martin in Moorestown is a big employer, with its naval electronics and surveillance-system plant. It is the birthplace of the Aegis radar. Politically, it is competitive territory, with big Democratic margins in Willingboro and Cherry Hill.
East of the Pine Barrens is Ocean County, including the barrier islands from Normandy Beach south to Little Egg Harbor, with older communities on the beachfront and larger clusters of new subdivisions and condominiums inland. Ocean County has been the fastest-growing part of New Jersey, a kind of Frost Belt Florida, with many retirees from New York and North Jersey eager to leave urban crime and high taxes. While Ocean County is Republican, the district as a whole is closely divided. It voted 54%-43% for Democrat Al Gore in 2000, but 51%-49% for President George W. Bush in 2004. In 2008, the pendulum swung back to the Democrats, with nominee Barack Obama winning 52% to Republican John McCain’s 47%.
Rep. John Adler (D)
Elected: 2008, 1st term.
Born: Aug. 23, 1959, Philadelphia, PA .
Home: Cherry Hill.
Education: Harvard U., B.A. 1981; J.D., 1989..
Family: Married (Shelley); 4 children.
Elected office: Cherry Hill Township Cncl., 1988-89; NJ Senate, 1992-2008.
Professional Career: Atty., Adler and Gold, 1992-98; Cozen and O'Connor, 1998-99; John H. Adler, Atty. at Law LLC, 2000; Earp Cohn P.C., 2000-present.
The new congressman from the third district is Democrat John Adler, who prevailed in a close and nasty campaign in 2008 to replace retiring Republican Rep. Jim Saxton.
|John Adler (D)||166,390||(52%)||($2,863,993)|
|Chris Myers (R)||153,122||(48%)||($1,259,800)|
|John Adler (D)||Unopposed|
Adler was born in Philadelphia but grew up on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River in Haddonfield, where his family owned a dry cleaner. His father suffered from heart trouble and died when Adler was a teenager. Social Security benefits were crucial in keeping Adler and his widowed mother financially afloat after his father’s death and in allowing Adler to attend Harvard University, where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees. After law school, Adler returned to New Jersey and settled in the Camden suburb of Cherry Hill with his wife, Shelley. In 1987, he won a seat on the Cherry Hill Township Council, where he wrote the township’s ethics ordinance. He ran unsuccessfully against Saxton for the House in 1990.
In 1991, he beat an incumbent Republican to win a seat in the state Senate, and went on to become chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He sponsored a statewide public-smoking ban that became law in January 2006 and a law to reduce auto emissions. He adroitly secured grant money for Cherry Hill over the course of his tenure, at one point spurring an ethics complaint because his wife sat on the township council. But he also showed some independence from the Democratic establishment and Gov. Jon Corzine, particularly during his House campaign. Adler opposed Corzine’s plan to boost tolls on New Jersey roads and in December 2007, asked the state attorney general to investigate whether Corzine had paid his ex-girlfriend’s brother to step down from a state job.
In September 2007, Adler announced that he would run for a second time against Saxton, who was in his 12th term. His chances got markedly better when Saxton, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, announced that he would retire at the end of his term. Adler shot to the top of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of challengers in the November 2008 election. While Republicans fought out an acrimonious primary, Adler faced no opposition for the Democratic nomination and used his time out of the spotlight to raise money. By the time Lockheed Martin executive Chris Myers emerged from the Republican primary in June, Adler had raised nearly $1.5 million. Myers had only $426,000 and had spent most of it on the primary.
Adler embraced a strategy of tying Myers to the unpopular Republican president and congressional Republicans. Myers responded in kind, labeling Adler a “Trenton insider” and seeking to tie him to what he called a culture of cronyism and scandal in the state capital. But as the campaign wore on, the disparity in campaign funds hurt Myers. The National Republican Congressional Committee spent only $16,500 against Adler, while the DCCC pumped more than $42,000 into the district against Myers. Adler won the backing of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, an influential lobby in the district that is home to the largely undeveloped Pine Barrens. Saxton, one of the most environmentally friendly Republicans in the House, had consistently enjoyed the Sierra Club’s endorsement.
Adler won, but not by a landslide: 52%-48%. The candidates split their home turf on Election Day, Myers carrying the Republican stronghold of Ocean County with 56% of the vote and Adler winning Democratic Camden County with 65% of the vote. In Burlington County, which cast nearly half of the district’s votes, Adler won with 56 percent.
In the House, Adler got a seat on the House Financial Services Committee and said that oversight of the $700 billion government bailout of the financial industry would be his top priority. He also was assigned to the Veterans Affairs Committee. The first bill he introduced would allocate money from the 2009 economic-stimulus bill to senior citizens and veterans who would not otherwise get a rebate.