The 3rd District contest is the most closely watched race in New Jersey. This district includes portions of Burlington and Ocean Counties and has been represented by Rep. Jon Runyan since 2011, but Runyan announced his retirement, leaving the seat wide open.
Last June, Tom MacArthur, the wealthy former mayor of Randolph in Morris County, beat another former North Jersey mayor to win the Republican nomination. Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard got the Democratic nod. Perennial candidate Frederick John Lavergne is on the independent ballot, running as a Democratic-Republican.
This is a true swing district, having been represented by three Democrats and two Republicans over the past 50 years. Although slightly more District 3 voters are registered as Democrats than as Republicans — 26.9 percent vs. 25 percent — the unaffiliated voters in this district have tended to swing right in recent years. Political polling sites had called this a tossup early on, but then marked it in the leaning GOP column. However, a Stockton College poll last week found MacArthur and Belgard tied.