Keeping the fires burning
It’s been a busy time for U. S. Rep. Leonard Lance, whose district encompasses most of central and western Union County. An agenda of budget woes faces him and other officials returning to Washington from summer recess. His contested Republican primary was closer than he would have expected. Still Lance keeps the home fires burning.
A few weeks ago he announced the return of $140,000 in unspent office funds. His return totals $600,000 since he first went to Washington. The total probably meets the cost of one missile shot in Iraq, but a Washington insider returning unspent money is still noteworthy.
Lance proclaimed, “ providing 7th-district taxpayers with effective and efficient constituent services has allowed my office to return hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last seven years for the purposes of deficit reduction.”
There is another point. Most people find the congressman’s office provides impressive constituent services. From immigration issues to flood control, the office is responsive. The district, which runs from rural Hunterdon through Union County, is considered a safe republican district.
Lance survived in June another pesky challenge from his more conservative opponent David Larsen.
Lance works the home district effectively. Last week he was visiting Cranford along with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez to press the Army Corps of Engineers to move on the need for flood control aid.
Most telling, Lance argued for “Alternative 4A,” an engineering program including channel improvements and the purchase of properties in Rahway. The advocacy shows Lance’s growth into the bureaucratic ways of Washington. While lacking the heavy-duty seniority, which means power, Lance has learned to press the levers to get things accomplished.
The joint announcement with Menendez is part of a bipartisan flair Lance has developed. He also has not lost the skill of using political buzzwords for the folks back home. Pictured on the banks of the Rahway River armed with a flood map, his release advised, “severe flooding has too long challenged these communities and caused great hardship for many residents. It’s time to get this project moving and protect these towns.”
Springfield Mayor Jerry Fernandez said, “Leonard Lance along with Senator Menendez have been two of the biggest supporters to help our communities with flooding from the Rahway river. When hurricane Irene flooded our town, Congressman Lance visited Springfield and has been the main force to try to speed up remedies that would help prevent this size of devastation again. We in Springfield cannot thank them enough.”
Lance doesn’t seem to have to worry about election woes, now facing a challenge by a virtually unknown Democrat in November. Federal election records reveal that challenger
Peter Jacobs has raised $25,000 compared to Lance having more than $300,000 in campaign funds in the bank. For the long-time state legislator, who has now served four terms in
Congress, Lance keeps the balance by pushing the levers of D. C. power while being accessible his hometown constituents and keeping the fires burning.
BY FRANK CAPECE