But LoBiondo starts the year in a strong position, and any Democrat will have to raise at a rapid pace to match him. He announced more than $1.1 million cash in the bank at the end of the year, after raising $443,000 in the fourth quarter.
Hughes' fundraising pace, however, set a record in the district, his campaign said. He raised $185,000 since launching his campaign in late October, a record amount for that period in New Jersey's 2nd District. He did not indicate how much cash he has in the bank.
Democrats are bullish about their chances of defeating LoBiondo with the right candidate, as last cycle he ended up spending more than $1.3 million to defeat a relatively weak Democrat. New Jersey’s 2nd District is a swing district with a slight Democratic advantage, and President Obama has won it the last two cycles.
But Hughes is likely to face a primary challenge. State Sen. Jeff Van Drew is considering a run, and has said he will decide by the end of the month, and a former Obama staffer, Dave Cole, is also contemplating a bid.
--This piece was updated at 11:48 to reflect LoBiondo's fundraising numbers.