VINELAND — Republican U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo defeated Democratic challenger David Cole Tuesday night to win his 2nd Congressional District-record 12th term in congress.
Unofficial results show LoBiondo taking 59 percent of the vote to Cole’s 37 percent, with most of the vote counted as of Wednesday morning.
The Associated Press called the race for LoBiondo Tuesday night.
LoBiondo, R-2nd, had a comfortable lead over Cole, who ran on platforms supporting additional gun control measures and support for the Affordable Care Act. This is Cole’s second bid for Congress after losing the Democratic primary to Bill Hughes Jr. in 2014.
“This is a moment in history,” Cole said of the election at a Democratic gathering at Rio Station in Rio Grande Tuesday night. “This is a foundation year for Democrats in Cape May County. We’ve run an exciting and innovative campaign. We will build on it, and keep going.”
LoBiondo was at the North Italy Hall in Vineland, shaking hands and slapping the backs of Republicans he’s known for decades.
The hall, the traditional election night gathering spot for Cumberland County Republicans, was filled to capacity. Those in the room dined on everything from meatballs to a roast pig.
But the possibility of LoBiondo winning re-election wasn’t the only reason he was in the news Tuesday. A month after pulling his endorsement for Donald Trump, calling him unfit to serve, LoBiondo changed his mind and voted for the Republican candidate, spokesman Jason Galanes said.
Galanes said LoBiondo decided Monday that he would vote for Trump because of the lingering questions surrounding Hillary Clinton’s emails and use of a private server.
The issue was raised again when FBI Director James Comey wrote a letter to Congress 11 days before the election saying the case had been reopened because of emails found in the investigation of former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.
Comey announced Sunday that his conclusion to not recommend criminal charges against Clinton had not changed. The case was then closed.
Still, Galanes said Clinton was “100 percent unacceptable,” which led to LoBiondo voting for Trump. Galanes said LoBiondo has not changed his views on what Trump has done or said throughout the campaign.
LoBiondo had previously said he would write in Trump’s running mate, former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, for president.
Despite the late switch, voters still came out in support for the incumbent based on his record in office.
“I think he’s been beneficial to my profession,” said Chris Hemberger, an Atlantic City firefighter.
Others, meanwhile, just wanted to see a shakeup.
“It does seem LoBiondo has done a great job,” said Michele Meeds, 62, of Middle Township. “I don’t have anything against him.”
Meeds said her vote for Cole was to change the direction.
“With a Republican Congress, we’ll have more of the same, and I’m tired of that,” she said.