Philadelphia Eagle turned potential candidate has spotty voting record

Former Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Jon Runyan (R) is the latest professional athlete to look at running for political office, but his voting history may become a campaign issue.


Records from Burlington County, N.J., indicate Runyan missed voting in four of nine general elections between 2000 and 2008. He also hasn’t voted in a Republican primary in the last decade and only registered with the GOP this month.

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Spokesman Chris Russell emphasized that Runyan has voted in five of the last six general elections. He said Runyan did vote in this month’s general election, which hasn’t been added to county records yet.

“With all the issues the country’s facing, we don’t think three or four missed elections the last 10 years is going to be a deciding factor for voters,” Russell said. “That’s a pretty good record.”

Runyan said last week he is seriously considering a run at freshman Rep. John Adler (D-N.J.), and Runyan’s renown as a longtime member of the area’s pro-football team would give him a leg up to start.

But records show Runyan missed voting in the general election in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007.

As for his primary record, Russell said Runyan has always identified as a Republican. He said Runyan didn’t feel the need to make it official until he saw what has happened in the country this year, as he began to consider running for office.

Russell noted that, in New Jersey, voting in a party’s primary requires one to register with that party.

“Most unaffiliated voters don’t vote in primaries,” Russell said. “There really was no need for him to do so, as an unaffiliated voter.”

Runyan follows in a long line of political newcomers who have seen their voting history become a liability.

Two Republican women running statewide in California – governor candidate Meg Whitman and Senate candidate Carly Fiorina – have taken hits in the local press for not voting frequently during their time in the business world. And two other wealthy businesspeople, Massachusetts Senate candidate Steve Pagliuca (D) and Connecticut Senate candidate Linda McMahon (R), have also been forced to confront their lack of a voting history.

Runyan said in a statement last week that he will think about challenging Adler. He has met with leaders from each of the three counties in the district, and with state Sen. Chris Connors (R) appearing unlikely to run, Runyan is looking more and more like a probable candidate.

Adler took his seat from Republican hands last year after the retirement of Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.). He defeated Republican Chris Myers 52-48.

The district went similarly, 52-47, for President Bararck Obama, but New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie’s (R) victory earlier this month and Runyan’s deliberations have put the district back on the political map.