by: Mark Spivey
NORTH PLAINFIELD — At the end of the day, there was only room for one of two passions in Ed Potosnak’s life.
It’s why the Democratic candidate for the 7th Congressional District seat announced the end of his campaign on Monday, instead choosing to accept a position as executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, a nonprofit advocacy group active in matters of environmental protection.
“It was a difficult decision,” the borough resident said. “But after deep consideration, I believe I made the right decision.”
Calling his new post a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Potosnak said the work will allow him to promote a cause he described as a lifelong passion. The league is notable for regularly compiling “scorecards” indicating how state legislators vote on bills affecting environmental matters and, in Potosnak’s words, “making sure voters are informed” about the results.
“I’ll be monitoring what’s happening in Trenton, both in the Assembly and the Senate, but also working with stakeholders out in communities, listening and learning about their priorities,” he said. “The league actually has a number of board members very active in different regional environmental interests statewide.”
A former chemistry teacher at Bridgewater-Raritan Regional High School who still works as a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University, Potosnak in 2010 mounted an unsuccessful effort to unseat Republican Rep. Leonard Lance, painting the incumbent as a politician who lost touch with his constituents and supports big business at the expense of the middle class. Describing himself as a political outsider, Potosnak specifically cited Lance’s support for Republican budget proposals that would have made cuts to Medicare, and he charged that Lance was more interested in “big insurance companies and big oil” than senior citizens.
Potosnak won about 40 percent of the 2010 vote against Lance in a district that includes large parts of Hunterdon and Somerset counties, plus smaller sections of Union and Middlesex counties. Last May he announced that he was giving it another try.
But while Potosnak in 2011 was one of two apparent Democratic challengers for Lance’s seat, none are known to exist now. The 7th Congressional District was realigned last year, leaving former Edison Mayor Jun Choi, who previously had announced his own campaign, on the outside looking in.
Potosnak, who also owns a small home-improvement business, didn’t say whether he would support another candidate’s run for Lance seat or whether he planned to run for public office again in the future.
“I am very grateful for the outpouring of support I received to bring my real-world experience as a chemistry teacher and small business owner to Congress,” he said. “I will be working every day to ensure our children and future generations have clean water and air, as well open space.”
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