Former Eagles Pro Bowler Runyan running for Congress
Former NFL lineman Jon Runyan said Thursday that he's willing to spend his own money to win his campaign for Congress in New Jersey.
The ex-Philadelphia Eagle retired from football this year to run as a Republican in New Jersey's 3rd District, where his party was expecting a competitive race even before a football star well-known in the area threw his helmet in the ring.
His formal campaign launch is scheduled for Thursday.
He said Wednesday in an interview with several reporters about his background, ambitions and positions that he's doing fundraising, but that he won't rely solely on donors as he challenges John Adler, a first-term Democrat who already had $1.4 million in his campaign war chest by Dec. 31.
"If my money comes into play, it does. If it doesn't, it doesn't," he said. "I'm going to do everything I can to win this campaign. I'm not in it to compete. I'm in it to win it."
Runyan said the main reason he wants to run is to try to control federal government spending. He cited the legislation to overhaul health insurance as an example of what he sees as government trying to do too much.
"I don't think that the way that Washington's approaching it right now, by spending another big spending bill, they're going to end up raising taxes -- that doesn't need to be done," he said.
He said he favors allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state lines. That, he said, would reduce insurance costs and increase the availability of coverage without affecting taxpayers.
Adler's campaign has been touting his centrist, independent positions in Congress. Last month, the National Journal ranked him as one of the 10 most centrist members of Congress.
The big example of breaking with his party: He's opposing the Senate version of the health care bill, a move that's upsetting those on the left.
Runyan says the difference is that Adler opposed the bill because of some of its details, while he opposes it on broader principles.
Adler's critics, including Runyan, say he's really a liberal positioning himself as a moderate to try to hold onto his job in the district, which stretches across southern New Jersey from the Philadelphia suburbs to the shore.
Adler spokeswoman Kathryn Prael disputes that, saying he has always voted to cut unneeded government spending.
Adler outspent not only his Republican opponent, but also every other congressional candidate in New Jersey that year. And he benefited from having President Barack Obama at the top of the ticket.
Runyan said he's a conservative on most issues and is still learning about the district, where he has lived since 2000. For instance, he said he generally favors increasing nuclear power production as a way to foster energy independence.
But he said he doesn't have a stand on specifics, including whether the Oyster Creek plant in his district should be required to build cooling towers or whether it's a good idea to build a second plant in the area.
He also said that he doesn't expect to spend the rest of his career in politics and that he brings an outsider's view. That's a contrast, he said, with Adler, a Democrat who worked his way up through local and state politics before joining Congress.