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For nearly my entire life, the place I call home has had one Congressman. That Congressman, Rob Andrews (D,NJ-01) announced today that he will resign after holding the office for 23 years to join a Philadelphia based law firm.
Congressman Andrews district houses most of Camden County and includes the City of Camden, making it one of the most reliably blue districts in the state. In fact, since 1990 when he first won the seat, he’s never been held below 63% of the vote and twice ran unopposed. Having held a ridiculously safe seat, and with having served so much time in Congress on behalf of the people of Camden County, you would think Andrews would be one of the most celebrated Congressman in recent memory. However, Andrews often attempted to use the office to move up to seek more power, leaves with a dismal legislative record, and leaves under a cloud of suspicion regarding his campaign finance ethics investigation.
In 1997, Andrews squared off against then State Senator Jim McGreevey for the Democratic Nomination for New Jersey Governor losing by 5,000 votes. For the next decade Andrews held New Jersey’s First Congressional Seat while looking for any excuse to leave his home county. From considering primarying Governor McGreevey before his resignation, being considered to fill Governor Jon Corzine’s seat in the United States Senate, considering primarying that seat’s eventual holder Bob Menendez, to eventually unsuccessfully primarying sitting Senator Frank Lautenberg in 2008.
During this time, when Andrews was attempting to take out Democrats that had surpassed him on the career ladder he accomplished extraordinarily little on behalf of his constituents. In fact, he set the record for utter futility over the past two decades legislatively. Andrews authored 646 bills, of which precisely zero became law. Only four ever made it out of the House, and zero ever made it out of the Senate. Not only was New Jersey’s First getting a Congressman consistently seeking new work, he wasn’t even successful at his old work. Perhaps that’s why he was consistently passed over for higher office.
Or perhaps it was his scandals. A congressional ethics committee has been reviewing Andrews and his spending reports. He’s used campaign funds for trips to California to assist his daughter in her fledgling singing and acting career, to replace lost clothing, and to fly his family to a donor’s wedding in Scotland. Not only was New Jersey getting substandard representation, it was getting potentially unethical representation.
As New Jersey’s First prepares for new representation for the first time in nearly a quarter-century, I hope my parents, friends, and community receive an honest representation. They deserve it.