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N.J. Republican in Obama-won district not running for reelection

Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) announced he wouldn’t seek a third term in Congress, giving Democrats a prime pickup opportunity in 2014 in district that President Obama won last year.

Runyan, a former offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles, had served just two terms in Congress after beating Democratic Rep. John Adler in the 2010 GOP wave. The South Jersey seat in the Philadelphia suburbs is a top battleground, and one of just 17 seats held by Republicans that the president carried in 2012. While Obama won the district with 52%, Runyan won re-election with 54% over Shelley Adler, the widow of the former congressman he defeated in 2010. Adler died suddenly of a heart ailment in April 2011.

“After a great deal of thought and discussions with my family, I have decided not to seek re-election in 2014,” Runyan said in a statement. “Politics shouldn't be a career and I never intended to make it one.  While it has truly been an honor to serve the people of New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, at this stage in my life, and more importantly, the lives of my three children, spending time with them is my top priority.  As I serve out the rest of my term, I will continue to work hard on behalf of the people of South Jersey."

Runyan’s decision comes as a surprise, though Democrats had hoped to give him a tough race after recruiting Freeholder Aimee Belgard into the race in the wake of the federal government shutdown. Runyan was one of only a handful of Republicans calling for an end to the government shutdown that was largely blamed on House Republicans. 

"Enough is enough. Put a clean [continuing resolution] on the floor, and let’s get on with the business we were sent to do," Runyansaid in a statement in early October.

If Democrats hope to win back the 17 seats they need to take control of Congress, opportunities like Runyan’s now-open seat are must-wins.

But Republicans are in no way ceding this race. 

“While this has always been a competitive district, both Jon Runyan and Chris Christie have proven that Republicans win here," NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said. "While we will not take this seat for granted, we will keep this seat in the Republican column, especially with Democrats already lining-up behind a Barbara Buono-style candidate, who will have to run from her own record as well as Obamacare and the president’s sinking approval rating in New Jersey."

Runyan becomes the fifth congressman to announce his retirement this cycle, and he joins Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) as another two-term representative who bowed out just years into their congressional career.