Inside Elections just released its new congressional race ratings.
WASHINGTON -- Democratic chances just improved to win four Republican-held House seats in New Jersey and retain one of their own, according to one of the Washington-based publications that track congressional races.
In its latest rankings, Inside Elections for the first time gave an edge to the Democrats in two open seat races now held by Republicans: the 2nd District being vacated by Rep.
Frank LoBiondo and the 11th District, where Rep.
Rodney Frelinghuysen is retiring.
The publication downgraded the re-election chances of Reps.
Tom MacArthur, R-3rd Dist., and Leonard Lance, R-7th Dist., and made freshman Democratic Rep.
Josh Gottheimer's a stronger bet to win a second term.
Inside Elections editor and publisher Nathan Gonzales called Gottheimer, who had banked $3.3 million, "a fundraising machine." The House Majority PAC, a super political action committee aligned with House Democrats, erected billboards in Bergen and Sussex counties in support of Gottheimer.
Anti-Trump wave crashing N.J.
The updated ratings were released Wednesday as Trump's continued unpopularity and Democratic fundraising prowess in the state hampers Republican candidates in a midterm election widely seen as a referendum on the president.
A Monmouth University poll released last month said just 35 percent of New Jersey voters approved of Trump's performance in office, and just 36 percent backed the Republican tax bill that curbed the federal deduction for state and local taxes.
"Voters are rightfully disgusted with a Republican agenda that punishes countless New Jersey families with higher health care premiums and increased taxes," said Evan Lukaske, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
"With unprecedented grassroots energy and an impressive field of challengers, Democrats are firing on all cylinders heading into 2018." National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Chris Martin disregarded the ratings.
"The economy is booming, taxes are lower for the first time in three decades, and ISIS is in full retreat," Martin said.
"Voters will put more stock in those accomplishments than arbitrary Beltway prognostication." In tilting both Republican-held open seats toward the Democrats, Gonzales cited the candidates' fundraising. State Sen.
Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, entered April with $456,028 to spend, more than any other candidate in the 2nd District. On the Republican side, only engineer Hirsh Singh, who lost a bid for GOP gubernatorial nomination last year, had $82,554 in the bank only because lent his campaign $56,685. A recent poll by Van Drew's campaign put the Democrat ahead of Singh, 52 percent to 34 percent.
In the 11th District, the Democrat with the most money, Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor, had $1.7 million in the bank at the end of March, while state Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris, led Republicans with $221,339.
Gonzales cited MacArthur's efforts in resurrecting the House Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the Congressional Budget Office said would have left 23 million more Americans without insurance.
And despite Lance's more moderate voting record, "Democrats are hoping he gets lumped in with a national party that is more conservative," Gonzales said.
Gonzales' ratings are similar to those of the other Washington publication that follows congressional races, the Cook Political Report.
In its most recent ratings, the Cook report gave the Democrats an edge in the 2nd District, called Lance's and the 11th District races a tossup, considered MacArthur just a slight favorite to win a third term, and said Gottheimer was a strong bet for re-election.
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