The Second Congressional District is among the top 28 races nationally this year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee established 16 “Red to Blue” races, which includes New Jersey’s Third Congressional District race, and 12 “Emerging Races” that could become competitive, including the Second Congressional District, according to Politico.
“Barack Obama won this district by 53 percent in 2008 and 54 percent in 2012,” Hughes told the Ocean City Democratic Club after receiving the club’s endorsement at its meeting at the library Wednesday night. “Technically, this is a Democratic district.”
The district is made up of all of Atlantic, Cape May, Salem and Cumberland counties, as well as parts of Ocean, Burlington and Gloucester counties, and Waterford Works in Camden County.
Hughes’ father held the seat from 1974-1994, when he lost to LoBiondo. The Republican has held the seat ever since.
Hughes is running against former White House aide and software engineer Dave Cole in the Democratic Primary.
LoBiondo is running against former Absecon Board of Education member and radio talk show host Mike Assad in the Republican Primary.
The primaries will be held June 3.
Hughes knows it’s going to take a lot of money to defeat LoBiondo. He ran for State Senate in 2001.
"I was out there every
day and I knocked on 6,000 doors," Hughes said. "This time, I need to
reach 81,000. The district is huge."
However, he said the national importance of the race allows him to reach a larger audience.
Democrats in the 28 races pegged important receive support from the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
He spent a little more than an hour Wednesday night answering questions from club members on a range of issues, including public education, gun control what incentives he would use to bring businesses into the district.
“We can offer massive tax incentives,” Hughes said, further stating Atlantic City International Airport can be a focal point for industry in the region.
He said there should be a national set of standards in public education, more competition in the health insurance marketplace in New Jersey and more of a true focus on alternative energy sources.
He spoke about the need for comprehensive background checks for potential gun buyers, but touted New Jersey’s strict laws.
“New Jersey has the strictest gun control laws in the country,” Hughes said. “I’d like to see other states come up to New Jersey’s standards.”
An important step is to identify potential buyers who are affected by mental illness and keep guns out of their hands.
“Mental illness and substance abuse go hand-in-hand,” Hughe said. “People self medicate with oxycotin, and that can turn into a heroin addiction.”
While some club members feel there aren’t enough facilities in the area that handle mental health issues, Hughes pointed to treatment centers in Somers Point, Cumberland County and Medford in Burlington County. He said he would focus on mental health issues if elected.
Hughes is an attorney with Cooper Levenson who was raised in Ocean City.
“It was where I had my first home after I married my wife,” Hughes said. “We lived in a remodeled boat house that was built in 1895.”
He now lives with his wife and three children in Northfield.