Former Philadelphia Eagles lineman Jon Runyan surprised a lot of people when he decided to enter politics and run for Congress.
Now he has a bigger surprise: After winning a South Jersey Congressional seat and defending it in 2012, Runyan is bowing out, decling to run for a third term next year.
Runyan was not available to talk to reporters. He said in a written statement that he’d never intended to make politics a career, and that spending time with his family is now his top priority.
Runyan captured the traditionally Republican seat four years ago from Democrat John Adler, and successsfully defended it against Adler’s widow, Shelly.
Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker says it’s a surprise to see a 40-year old congressman give up a relatively safe seat, but he thinks it was difficult for a relative moderate Republican like Runyan to serve in a caucus dominated by hard-line conservatives.
“I know it must have been very frustrating for him to have voted 44 times to repeal Obamacare on what was clearly a fool’s errand,” Baker said.
Runyan’s departure will tip off a scramble for his seat.
One Democrat, Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard, has registered a campaign committee to run for the seat.
“Its not impossible for a Democrat under the right conditions to capture that seat,” Baker said, “but it does tilt in the Republican direction. “
Before John Adler won the seat in 2008, it was the first time a Democrat represented the district in more than a century.
Here’s Runyan’s statement:
“After a great deal of thought and discussions with my family, I have decided not to seek re-election in 2014. 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.”