Republican Heard Forms Exploratory Committee Toward CD7 Run

For the longest time it looked like Rep. Leonard Lance’s only concern was a presumed to be stronger than usual Democratic challenger this fall.

Maybe not.

Craig Heard of Roxbury, who ran unsuccessfully against Lance, R-7th District, in the 2016 Republican primary, said Monday he has formed an exploratory committee to consider doing so again.

An immediate reaction is that Heard really doesn’t have all that much time for lengthy exploration with the primary a little more than three months away.

Heard said some of Lance’s votes on health care and taxes have drawn criticism from conservatives. Lance opposed both the unsuccessful repeal of Obamacare and the successful passage of recent federal tax cuts. The congressman has said that the tax cuts can hurt New Jersey residents because they put a $10,000 ceiling on the deduction for state and local taxes. He also said he was concerned that repealing Obamacare could hurt those who benefit from an expanded Medicaid program.

Heard said in a statement that his committee surveyed 400 district voters by phone and discovered “wavering support” for Lance, a large undecided bloc of voters and “very strong support for Heard’s key conservative platform of tax reductions, increased support for veterans and seniors, protecting our borders and renewed focus on education.”

He added, “We need a true conservative candidate that the whole party can get behind.”

Democrats have had a larger than normal field seeking the party’s nomination in a sprawling district that covers central and western New Jersey. Some candidates have dropped out, but five are still in the race.

Heard acknowledged time is tight, but said a campaign infrastructure from two years ago remains and that he has “networking in each county” in the district.

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