New Jersey state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a Democrat, is setting his sights on the U.S. Congress.
On Wednesday, Van Drew announced he would run for the seat occupied by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, a Republican who is retiring after 12 terms in the House of Representatives.
The state’s 2nd Congressional District stretches across the lower third of the state, including parts of eight counties. Atlantic City and Vineland are there, as well as vast swaths of rural farmland.
A Van Drew victory would give Democrats a seat held by the GOP for more than two decades.
“I think [people] want real change in Washington,” said Van Drew, claiming the election of President Donald Trump demonstrated a widespread yearning for fresh ideas in national politics.
“So many folks were surprised that [Trump] won, but part of the reason was, I think, that people were looking for something very different. I think people still are.”
In Congress, Van Drew said he would work on issues that matter to South Jersey, which includes some of the poorest and least-educated counties in the state. He would focus on jobs, fishing and wildlife, and “common sense people issues.”
The South Jersey Democrat has served in the state Senate since 2007 and previously served five years in the state Assembly. Before that, he was a Cape May County freeholder and the mayor of Dennis Township.
Van Drew, who lives in Cape May County, is a dentist and volunteer firefighter. (He says he would have to stop practicing dentistry professionally if he went to Congress but would hope to still volunteer.)
His campaign said he has the support of each of the eight county Democratic chairs within the district.
Among the potential Republican candidates interested in the seat is Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, who lost his re-election bid in November, according to a report in the Observer.