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VINELAND – Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2, on Monday said he definitely will seek another two years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The candidate petition filing deadline isn't until April, but so far LoBiondo, who is serving his 12th consecutive term in Congress, has one potential Democratic challenger.

LoBiondo, first elected to the House in 1994, is again a designated target of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as he was in the last election. The incumbent picked up 59.2 percent of the vote in the Nov. 8, 2016 election.

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“So there’s kind of nothing new in this cycle from what it’s been before,” LoBiondo said Monday. “And whoever the candidates are, you know, the more the merrier.”

On the Democratic side, Swedesboro resident Tanzie Youngblood filed a statement of candidacy on July 31 with the Federal Election Commission. The filing starts the process of quarterly reports from potential candidates to the FEC on campaign fundraising and spending.

Youngblood has formed a campaign organization, Youngblood for Congress, according to her filing.

Her website describes her as a retired teacher and that her focus will be on "pocketbook issues." She is the widow of a postal worker.

LoBiondo, a resident of Ventnor, declined to comment on Youngblood.

"Well, you know, they seem to start earlier and earlier," the congressman said. "It used to be that there really wasn’t somebody that was kicking into gear until the actual election year. Bill Hughes Jr. kind of broke that mold. And he started I guess just about this time when he was running."

LoBiondo anticipates that employment and the economy of the district again will be the main issues in the campaign.

"If you don’t have a job and ... you’re having trouble paying the bills and can’t pay the mortgage, this is a big deal," he said. "The other factors are all important, but in South Jersey it’s always been ‘jobs and the economy.’"

LoBiondo said it is too early in the process to know if current events will have an impact when voters are making up their minds in 2018, whether it is about House legislative business or national politics.

"People tend to work off of what the most recent results are," LoBiondo said. "Now, if as the Republican Party, we’re not able to produce any results on a lot of the big issues, then sure that’s going to have an impact.

"But you’re going to see a big push for tax reform, and some other things that could make a real difference," he added. "If the economy nationally continues to grow, it’s one thing. We still have pretty big challenges here in this district, but we always have some great spots that seem to be shining through."

LoBiondo said he is pleased with President Donald Trump's action on national defense, homeland security, trade, and the Veterans Administration.

"The (veterans) legislation that he’s recently signed — this was stuff the previous presidents could have done and decided not to," LoBiondo said. "And for our veterans, it’s going to be a really big deal.

"I’m talking about legislation that puts more money into the Choice program, which is allowing veterans to get care closer to home," he said. "And I’m talking about the legislation that basically says that if you’ve got VA employees that were responsible, like they were in Phoenix, for veterans not being treated right and dying, that they can be fired. Instead of getting bonuses."

LoBiondo said he does have areas of disagreement with the administration, including drilling off New Jersey, proposed Environmental Protection Agency budgets, vouchers in public education, and raising premiums on flood insurance policyholders to pay for a border wall with Mexico.

Joseph P. Smith; (856) 563-5252; jsmith@gannettnj.com

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