U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews leaving Congress; N.J. state Sen. Donald Norcross wants the job

 New Jersey Sen. Donald Norcross will be sworn in Wednesday to Congress, representing South Jersey's 1st District. (AP file photo)

New Jersey Sen. Donald Norcross will be sworn in Wednesday to Congress, representing South Jersey's 1st District. (AP file photo)

New Jersey Democratic Congressman Rob Andrews will leave Congress next month.

After more than two decades in the U.S. House of Representatives, Andrews is resigning to take a job in the private sector as head of government affairs for Philadelphia law firm Dilworth Paxson.

“This is a decision I needed to make in order to fill this opportunity and I made this decision because I think it’s the right one for my family at this time,” Andrews told reporters.

The heads of the firm are friends, Andrews said, describing them as mentors.

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Later Tuesday, state Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, said he intends to run for the 1st District seat.

Andrews denied his decision had anything to do with a House ethics investigation ongoing since 2012 over his use of campaign funds, including $13,000 for his family to attend a donor’s wedding in Scotland. He later paid that back.

That investigation will likely end once he leaves Congress.

As Andrews looks forward to his new job, several politicians in the South Jersey area also are considering their futures.

And Andrews’ decision to leave Congress could have a significant impact on who will wield power in New Jersey’s Legislature. Because it’s a historically Democratic congressional district, Monmouth University political analyst Patrick Murray said it’s doubtful a Republican candidate could win the seat.

If Norcross becomes the Democratic nominee, Murray said that could change the dynamics in the Legislature, referring to speculation that Norcross would be the next president of the state Senate.

“Moving Donald Norcross into this seat is an opening that says maybe we’re looking for another leadership position for somebody else in the state Legislature if Steve Sweeney becomes governor,” Murray said. “This is thinking five moves ahead in a chess game here.”

Murray said it’s too soon to tell just how all of the behind-the-scenes political maneuvering will play out, although Norcross, brother of South Jersey Democratic political powerbroker George Norcross, said Tuesday he is interested in the job.

“I am running for Congress because South Jersey needs someone who is going to stand up for us in Washington, D.C., as Rob Andrews has done for more than two decades,” said Donald Norcross. “I have spent my career fighting for middle- class families, senior citizens and workers.”

President Barack Obama released a statement regarding Andrew’s imminent departure, saying that, “The grandson of shipyard workers and the first in his family to attend college, Rob has worked hard to preserve the American Dream for future generations.”

Phil Gregory contributed to this report.

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