Before Shelley Adler can reclaim her late husband’s congressional seat, she will have to get by a former Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman.
Adler, a Democrat, is running in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District against incumbent Rep. Jon Runyan, the former pro football player who unseated her husband, John, during the Republicans’ 2010 midterm election surge.
John Adler served a single term in Congress representing the South Jersey district after a long career as a state senator. He died in April 2011 at the age of 51 due to complications from a staph infection following heart surgery.
“The impetus to run was my family – myself and my sons. We believe in public service,” said Shelley Adler, 52, who has worked as an attorney and was a member of the Cherry Hill Township Council for five years.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has flagged the race on its red-to-blue list.
Political experts, however, characterize the race as leaning toward Runyan, and a recent poll had the congressman leading Adler by 10 points among likely voters. The DCCC and the Republican Congressional Committee recently canceled ad buys in the Philadelphia area, suggesting that local congressional races are not seen as being as competitive as they once were.
While Adler makes it clear that she isn’t seeking a sympathy vote, she says her husband’s name often comes up when she is campaigning.
“So many people knew him and respected him, both his views and the way he treated them,” she said.
The Adlers met during their years at Harvard Law School. He converted to Judaism, and they had four sons who now range in age from 10 to 23. Asked if any of her sons seem destined for a political career, Adler laughs before replying, “I don’t know. It’s way too soon for that.”