Congressman Jon Runyan's re-election campaign said an internal poll showed the incumbent Republican leading Democratic challenger Shelley Adler by 16 points in New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District race.
Private polling firm McLaughlin & Associates calculates Runyan up 51 percent to just 34 percent for Adler, with the former Eagles lineman receiving a quarter of the Democratic vote. The same study predicted his challenger is luring away just 8 percent of the Republican base.
Runyan campaign spokesman Chris Russel said the congressman's support from several key labor unions helped boost his numbers with registered Democrats.
'We are within striking distance'
Adler spokesman Michael Muller dismissed the poll as a "work of fiction."
Muller said the Adler campaign has not done any recent internal polling, but that outside polls show the race is competitive.
"We are within striking distance," he said.
The national arm of the Democratic party identified Adler-Runyan as potentially competitive early on this election season, and provided the challenger with an influx of funding through its "Red to Blue" program.
With some of that extra cash, Adler began running attack ads that played up Runyan's football career. A commercial released Tuesday, entitled "Free Agent," frames Runyan as a rogue brute whose economic policies harm American workers.
Russel said in a statement that Adler's negative ads were "backfiring" and voters who counted "taxes, spending and debt" among their top issues favored the Republican by a 23-point margin.