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John Herbert Adler (August 23, 1959 – April 4, 2011) was an American politician who served as a U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 3rd congressional district from 2009 until 2011. He was a member of the Democratic Party. He was a member of the New Jersey Senate from 1992 to 2009, where he represented the 6th Legislative District. The district stretches from the suburbs of Philadelphia to Ocean County. He lost the 2010 congressional election to former football player Jon Runyan (of the Philadelphia Eagles) and died the following year. In 2012 Adler's widow, Shelley Adler, announced her candidacy for the seat.[3]

John Adler
Rep. John Adler.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byJim Saxton
Succeeded byJon Runyan
Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 6th district
In office
January 14, 1992 – January 3, 2009
Preceded byLee B. Laskin[1]
Succeeded byJames Beach[2]
Personal details
John Herbert Adler

(1959-08-23)August 23, 1959
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedApril 4, 2011(2011-04-04) (aged 51)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Cause of deathComplications from staphylococcal infection
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Shelley Levitan
Alma materHarvard University

Early life, education and careerEdit

Adler was born in Philadelphia, the son of Mary Louise (née Beatty) and John Herbert Adler. His ancestry included German (including Bavarian), English, and Irish.[4] He moved to Haddonfield, New Jersey when he was two years old. His father owned a small dry cleaning store. When Adler was in high school, his father died after a series of heart attacks. Adler and his mother lost the family business, and survived off his father's Social Security benefits for widows and minors. He attended Haddonfield Memorial High School. He went on to receive a B.A. from Harvard College in Government, and earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School.[5] He paid for law school through student loans, grants and working odd jobs throughout college.

Early political careerEdit

From 1988 until 1989, Adler served on the Cherry Hill Township Council. While serving on the Council, Adler passed the township's ethics ordinance.[6]

In 1990 Adler challenged incumbent Jim Saxton for his seat in New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District. Adler was defeated by Saxton by a margin of 60% to 40%.[7]

New Jersey State SenateEdit

Adler was elected in 1991 to the New Jersey State Senate, where he served from 1992 until his inauguration into the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009. While in the New Jersey State Senate, Adler served on the Judiciary Committee (as Chair) and the Environment Committee. He served on the New Jersey Israel Commission since 1995, and on the New Jersey Intergovernmental Relations Commission from 1994 to 2002.[5]

Adler applauds a motion of the New Jersey Legislature.


Adler was co-sponsor of the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, enacted in 2006, which banned smoking in almost all public places.[8] Adler was one of three co-sponsors of a Senate bill submitted in 2008 that would extend the smoking ban to casinos and simulcasting facilities, which had been exempted in the earlier version of the ban.[9]

Adler co-sponsored legislation that strips government pensions from public employees who are convicted of or plead guilty to corruption charges.[10]

Adler co-sponsored a bill that would expand voting rights for military personnel and New Jersey citizens overseas to include state and local elections. The bill was signed into law on August 12, 2008, by Governor Corzine.[11]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

Committee assignmentsEdit

U.S. Congressman Adler was ranked by The National Journal as one of the ten most centrist members in the House of Representatives. He is ranked as 50.5 percent liberal and 49.5 percent conservative.[12]


Adler was in favor of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.[13] Adler voted against the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and later voted to end the program.[14] In January 2009, Adler announced his first bill as a U.S. Representative: the Safeguarding America's Seniors and Veterans Act, which mandated a one-time payment of $500 to persons eligible for Social Security, railroad retirement, or veterans disability benefits.[15] According to a statement by Adler's office, the bill was necessary because "the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 fails to address the needs of our seniors and veterans".[16] The bill attracted 11 cosponsors; it was referred to the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health, and progressed no further.[15] Adler voted for the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.[17]

In November 2009 and March 2010, Adler voted against House and the Senate Health Care bills.[18][19][20] He did not sign a petition circulated by Iowa Republican Steve King calling for a complete repeal of the law.[21]

Adler voted in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.[22]

Political campaignsEdit

2004 presidential electionEdit

On October 7, 2003, along with Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey's 8th Congressional District, Adler formally endorsed Senator John Kerry for President and became the Co-Chairman of John Kerry's campaign in the Garden State. Shortly afterwards on December 19, 2003, Governor of New Jersey Jim McGreevey and most of the New Jersey Democratic Party came out in support of Former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean for President. Because of this endorsement for Kerry, and Kerry's decisive win in the Democratic Primary, Adler was rumored to be the frontrunner for U.S. Attorney for New Jersey if the Senator from Massachusetts had won the 2004 presidential election.


On September 20, 2007, Adler announced that he planned a second challenge to Saxton. By this time, the district had been renumbered as New Jersey's 3rd congressional district.[23] On November 9, 2007, Saxton announced that he would not seek reelection in 2008, citing prostate cancer. This dramatically altered the dynamics of the race; instead of facing a 25-year incumbent, Adler was now running in an open seat.[24] Adler was unopposed in the Democratic primary, and faced Republican Medford Mayor, Lockheed Martin executive, and Gulf War veteran Chris Myers.[25]

During the 2008 election cycle, Adler was one of the first elected officials in New Jersey to endorse Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination in a state where the party establishment supported Hillary Clinton. Adler held a financial advantage over his opponent through all of the race, holding a 10–1 or 5–1 funding edge over Myers for a majority of the campaign.[26] Adler had raised the most money in the country of any non-incumbent congressional candidate.[27][28]

Adler received a number of endorsements for the election, including those from the Teamsters, Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey,[29] New Jersey Environmental Federation, The Sierra Club, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Health Care, and the Recreational Fishing Alliance.[30][31][32]

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee committed $1.7 million in ad buys to Adler's campaign.[33] In comparison, the NRCC committed $84,200 in coordinated ad buys with the Myers campaign, in addition to help the NRCC gave in financing an internal poll in September with the Myers campaign. Myers also benefited from two ad buys by the 501(c)(4) organization Freedom's Watch, which attacked John Adler on his tax record, his legislative history, and contributions he received from subprime mortgage companies.[34][35]

Adler won a majority of newspaper endorsements. He was endorsed by the Press of Atlantic City,[36] The Philadelphia Inquirer,[37] The New York Times, [38] the Burlington County Times,[39] the Courier Post,[40] Myers received the endorsement of the Asbury Park Press.[41]

The 3rd district race was the last one to be called in New Jersey on Election Night 2008. Adler ultimately defeated Myers with 52.08% of the vote to Myers' 47.92%.[42] He was sworn into his position as the Congressman from the 3rd district of New Jersey in the United States House of Representatives on January 6, 2009, the first Democrat to represent this district in 123 years. The district was the 1st for most of the time until 1967, then was the 6th from 1967 to 1983, the 13th from 1983 to 1993, and has been the 3rd since 1993.


Adler lost the 2010 midterm election to Republican nominee Jon Runyan. Adler received 47.3% of the vote, while Runyan received slightly more than half the votes cast.[43] Runyan is a former Philadelphia Eagles star and a Mount Laurel resident.

In addition to Runyan, Adler was challenged by NJ Tea Party nominee Peter DeStefano, Libertarian nominee Russ Conger, and Your Country Again nominee Lawrence J. Donahue.

Republicans heavily targeted this seat in this election cycle.[44] A warning sign for Adler came in the New Jersey gubernatorial race in 2009, when Republican candidate Chris Christie carried Adler's district by 17 points over Democratic Governor Jon Corzine [45] Governor Christie campaigned hard for Runyan, calling Adler a "career politician".

Some Democratic operatives asserted that Adler campaign staffers and the Camden County Democratic Committee (CCDC) recruited Tea Party candidate Peter DeStefano in an attempt to split the conservative vote and benefit Adler. New Jersey Tea Party groups said they had never heard of DeStefano until he had a strong showing in a July poll released by the Adler campaign.[46] On October 8, 2010, the Associated Press reported, based on the details of an earlier article at, that there was "mounting evidence" that the Democrats recruited DeStefano. The article noted that a Democratic Party employee ran DeStefano's website and that many of the signatures on DeStefano's nominating petitions belonged to Democrats - including a former Adler campaign staffer.[47] Reportedly, Steve Ayscue, the paid head of operations for CCDC, and Geoff Mackler, Adler's campaign manager, presented a plan at CCDC Headquarters during a May 26 meeting of the South Jersey Young Democrats, and some of those present soon joined in circulating a petition to place Peter DeStefano on the ballot.[48] Adler denied the allegations.[49][50] DeStefano called the suggestion that he was a Democratic plant "a bunch of crap".[49] In the end, DeStefano garnered only 1.5% of the vote.[43]

Personal lifeEdit

Adler met his wife Shelley in law school. He converted to her faith of Judaism in 1985, having been raised an Episcopalian.[51] After they graduated, they returned to South Jersey and settled down in Cherry Hill. They resided in Cherry Hill with their four sons until his death.

In March 2011, Adler contracted a staph infection which resulted in endocarditis leading to emergency surgery. He never recovered and died on April 4, 2011.[52][53]

In 2012, Shelley Adler unsuccessfully ran against Runyan for Adler's old U.S. House seat.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Our Campaigns - NJ State Senate 06 Race - November 5, 1991
  2. ^ Our Campaigns - NJ State Senate 06 Race - November 6, 2007
  3. ^ "Shelley Adler set to announce bid for Congress". PolitickerNJ. 2012-01-29. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Senator Adler's legislative web page, New Jersey Legislature. Retrieved February 24, 2008.
  6. ^ Adler for Congress website biography Archived 2010-06-12 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed March 22, 2010.
  7. ^ King, Wayne. " The 1990 Elections: New Jersey - Congressional Races; Voters Angry, but Not at Incumbents", The New York Times, November 7, 1990. Retrieved August 11, 2008.
  8. ^ Gurney, Kaitlin. "N.J. ban on indoor smoking passes: The Assembly sent the bill, with an exemption for casino floors, to Gov. Codey. He is expected to sign it Sunday.", The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 10, 2006. Retrieved August 7, 2008.
  9. ^ 213th Legislature: S236, New Jersey Legislature. Retrieved August 8, 2008.
  10. ^ Della Santi, Angela via the Associated Press. "Convicted N.J. pols stand to lose hefty pensions" Archived 2007-10-19 at, Burlington County Times, August 12, 2007. Accessed August 7, 2008. "'This is the cornerstone of the Legislature's anti-corruption legislation, which aims to make clear to prospective wrongdoers that there will be serious penalties for public corruption,' said Sen. John Adler, who co-sponsored the measure."
  11. ^ Staff. "Governor Signs Legislation Allowing Deployed Troops to Vote in State Races", Cape May County Herald, August 13, 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  12. ^ "The National Journal ranks Rep. John Adler one of the 10 most "Centrist" lawmakers | John Adler for Congress". 2010-03-10. Archived from the original on 2010-07-30. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  13. ^ "Project Vote Smart - HR 1 Appropriations, Tax Law Amendments, and Unemployment Benefit Amendments ("Stimulus Bill") Member Vote List". 2009-01-28. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  14. ^ "Adler Votes Against Additional Bailout Funding". 2009-01-21. Archived from the original on 2010-07-07. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  15. ^ a b "Bill Summary & Status - 111th Congress (2009 - 2010) - H.R.746". THOMAS (Library of Congress). Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  16. ^ "The Safeguarding America's Seniors and Veterans Act". Press release by John Adler, reproduced at Project Vote Smart. 2009-01-26. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  17. ^ Final Vote Results for Roll Call 968
  18. ^ Fitzgerald, Thomas (2010-03-18). "S.J. Democrat gives thumbs down to health-care reform | The Philadelphia Inquirer | 03/18/2010". Archived from the original on March 23, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  19. ^ [1] Archived November 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger. "U.S. Rep. John Adler opposes health-care bill, despite pleas from Obama |". Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  21. ^ Discharge Petition 0011
  22. ^ "House Roll Call #477 Details". OpenCongress. 2009-06-26. Archived from the original on 2010-09-03. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  23. ^ Hester Jr., Tom (Associated Press). "State Sen. Adler to challenge Saxton for Congress", Newsday, September 20, 2007. Retrieved September 21, 2007.
  24. ^ Hernandez, Raymond. "Citing Health, Lawmaker Announces Plan to Retire", The New York Times, November 10, 2007. Accessed December 1, 2007. "Representative Jim Saxton of New Jersey, a Republican who has served in Congress since 1984, said Friday that he would not seek re-election next year because he has prostate cancer."
  25. ^ Chris Myers campaign website. Retrieved August 8, 2008.
  26. ^ Smith, Bridget. "Adler has big edge over Myers in raising campaign funds", Courier-Post, August 3, 2008. Retrieved August 6, 2008.
  27. ^ "Winners and Losers",, July 18, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008. "Democrat John Adler is a clear winner: he's raised $1.9 million for his third district race -- that's more than any non-incumbent candidate nationally."
  28. ^ 2008 Race: New Jersey District 3 - Total Raised and Spent, Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved August 6, 2008.
  29. ^ "Adler campaign announces new slew of endorsements | John Adler for Congress". 2008-11-03. Archived from the original on 2010-07-30. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  30. ^ "Adler gets endorsement of Teamsters, Police Union, Sierra Club | John Adler for Congress". 2008-07-11. Archived from the original on 2010-07-30. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  31. ^ “Humane Society Legislative Fund Announces Endorsements” Archived 2008-10-22 at the Wayback Machine, May 22, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
  32. ^ “National Committee Endorsement”, PolitickernNJ, October 22. 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2008.
  33. ^ Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee website Archived 2008-09-25 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ "Crisis NJ". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  35. ^ "Enough NJ". YouTube. 2008-09-26. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  36. ^ “3rd Congressional District: Elect Adler” Archived 2008-10-21 at the Wayback Machine, Press of Atlantic City, October 19, 2008. Retrieved October 19, 2008.
  37. ^ “Editorial: N.J. Districts: House”[permanent dead link], Trading Markets, October 20, 2008. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  38. ^ “Editorial-For the House”, The New York Times, October 25, 2008. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  39. ^ “Burlington County Times Endorsement for John Adler”, Burlington County Times, October 26, 2008. Retrieved October 27, 2008.
  40. ^ Courier Post October 22, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2008.
  41. ^ [2][dead link]
  42. ^ [3][dead link]
  43. ^ a b "Official List – Candidates for House of Representatives – For November 2010 General Election" (PDF). New Jersey Division of Elections. State of New Jersey Department of State.
  44. ^ "If GOP can't beat Adler in '10, he'll get a safe seat until he runs statewide". Politicker NJ. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  45. ^ "Christie won Adler's district by 17 points". Politicker NJ. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  46. ^ "Democrats: Adler campaign backed Tea Party candidate". Cherry Hill Courier Post. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
  47. ^ Geoff Mulvihill (10/8/10) Report: Dems planted NJ tea-party House candidate Associated Press. Retrieved 10-8-10.
  48. ^ Jane Roh (2010-10-08). "Dems picked spoiler candidate". Retrieved 2010-10-08.
  49. ^ a b Cynthia Burton (2010-10-09). "John Adler denies allegation he recruited third-party candidate DeStefano". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
  50. ^ Geoff Mulvihill (2010-10-12). "Dem denies NJ House campaign recruited tea-partier". Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
  51. ^ Forward, The. "Record Number of Jews slated for next U.S. Congress - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News". Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  52. ^ "Former U.S. Rep. John Adler has died". New Jersey Real Time News. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  53. ^ "Former U.S. Rep. John Adler has died", PolitickerNJ, April 4, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2011.

External linksEdit