Leonard Lance

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Leonard Lance
Leonard Lance official congressional photo (portrait-cropped).jpg
Lance in 2015
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 7th district
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byMike Ferguson
Succeeded byTom Malinowski
Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 23rd district
In office
January 8, 2002 – January 3, 2009
Preceded byWilliam E. Schluter
Succeeded byMarcia Karrow
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 23rd district
In office
February 21, 1991 – January 8, 2002
Preceded byWilliam E. Schluter
Succeeded byMichael Doherty
Personal details
Leonard John Lance

(1952-06-25) June 25, 1952 (age 69)
Easton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Heidi Rohrbach
(m. 1996)
EducationLehigh University (BA)
Vanderbilt University (JD)
Princeton University (MPA)

Leonard John Lance[1] (born June 25, 1952) is an American politician and attorney who served as the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 7th congressional district, from 2009 to 2019. He ran for re-election in 2018, but was defeated by Democrat Tom Malinowski. He is a member of the Republican Party who previously served in the New Jersey Senate from 2002 to 2009 and the New Jersey General Assembly from 1991 to 2002.

Early life, education, and early political career[edit]

Lance was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, into a political family. His parents were Anne M. (née Anderson) and Wesley Leonard Lance, who was a State Senator.[2][3] His great-uncle, H. Kiefer Lance, was also active in New Jersey politics.

After attending North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, New Jersey, Lance received a B.A. from Lehigh University in 1974, a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1977, and a M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey in 1982.[4]

Early career[edit]

Lance served as the law clerk to the Warren County Court in 1977 and 1978. He was assistant counsel for county and municipal matters to Governor of New Jersey Thomas Kean from 1983 to 1990. He was a member of the New Jersey Council on the Humanities during the Whitman Administration by appointment of the Governor.

New Jersey legislature[edit]

Lance served in the New Jersey General Assembly for 11 years (1991–2002) and served in the New Jersey Senate for 7 years (2002–2009). In 2002, he was elected to the New Jersey Senate and held the position of Minority Leader from 2004 to 2008.[4]


In 1987, he first ran for the General Assembly. He lost the Republican primary, ranking third with 17% in New Jersey's 23rd District.[5] Lance was appointed to the New Jersey General Assembly in February 1991 when then-Assemblyman William E. Schluter was appointed to the New Jersey Senate upon the ascension of Dick Zimmer from the New Jersey Senate to the United States House of Representatives in January 1991. After redistricting, Lance ran for the newly redrawn 23rd District in 1991, and won the Republican primary. In the general election, he ranked second with 30%, winning a seat. Incumbent Republican State Assemblyman Chuck Haytaian ranked first in the district with 33%.[6] In 1993, Lance won re-election to a second term with 40%.[7] In 1995, he won re-election to a third term with 34%.[8] In 1997, he won re-election to a fourth term with 30%.[9] In 1999, he won re-election to a fifth term with 36%.[10]

After redistricting, he ran for the New Jersey Senate in 2001 in the 23rd District. He defeated Democrat Frederick P. Cook 69%–31%.[11] In 2003, he won re-election to a second term with 68%.[12] In 2007, he won re-election to a third term with 67%.[13]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



In 1996, Lance sought the Republican nomination to replace Rep. Dick Zimmer, who was retiring from the House of Representatives to run for the United States Senate. Lance ran to represent New Jersey's 12th congressional district, which at that time included his residence in Clinton Township. Lance finished third in the primary behind Franklin Township Mayor Michael Pappas and New Jersey Senator John O. Bennett III. Pappas went on to win the general election.[14]


In 2008, Lance ran for Congress in the 7th congressional district, which now included his residence in Clinton Township. Republican Rep. Mike Ferguson was retiring after four terms in Congress. In the Republican primary, Lance faced seven candidates including former Summit Council President Kelly Hatfield, Scotch Plains Mayor Martin Marks, and Kate Whitman, daughter of former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.[15] On June 3, 2008, Lance won the Republican primary with 40% of the vote.[16]

In the general election, Lance faced New Jersey Assemblywoman Linda Stender of Scotch Plains, as well as three independent and third-party candidates. Stender had been the Democratic nominee against Ferguson in 2006 and narrowly lost.[17] The Cook Political Report rated the race as a "toss up."[18] Lance was endorsed by The New York Times.[19] On November 4, Lance defeated Stender by 51% to 41%. Along with Erik Paulsen of Minnesota and Joseph Cao of Louisiana, Lance was one of three non-incumbent Republicans to be elected in a district won by President Barack Obama.[20]

In the 2008 presidential primaries, Lance supported Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He later endorsed nominee John McCain.[21]


In 2010, Lance was challenged in the Republican primary by businessman David Larsen of Oldwick, IT consultant Alonzo Hosford of Milford, and real estate appraiser Bruce Baker of Westfield. Lance won the primary with 56% of the vote, ahead of Larsen with 31%, Hosford with 8% and Baker with 5%.[22][23] Unlike the 2008 election, the 2010 7th district general election race was not considered competitive.[24] Lance defeated educator Ed Potosnak 59% to 41%.[25]


Redistricting made Lance's district significantly more Republican than its predecessor.[26][27] The 7th was pushed to the north, losing its share of Democratic-leaning Middlesex County in exchange for more conservative territory in Morris and Warren Counties. It also absorbed all of Hunterdon County and regained Millburn in Essex County, which had been in the district prior to 2003.[28] In the Republican congressional primary, Lance was challenged for a second time by David Larsen. Lance defeated Larsen 61% to 39%.[29] In the general election, Lance defeated New Jersey Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula 57% to 40%.[30]

In the Republican presidential primaries, Lance endorsed Mitt Romney.[31]


Lance was challenged for a third time for the Republican nomination by David Larsen. Lance defeated Larsen 54% to 46%.[32] In the general election, Lance defeated Town of Clinton Mayor Janice Kovachs 59% to 39%.[33]


In the 2016 Republican congressional primary, Lance was challenged by David Larsen for a fourth time. Businessman Craig Heard of Roxbury also ran in the primary. Lance won the primary with 54% of the vote, ahead of Larsen with 33% and Heard with 13%.[34][35] In the general election, Lance faced social worker Peter Jacob. Jacob was one of 27 congressional candidates endorsed by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.[36][37] Lance defeated Jacob 54% to 43%.[38]


Lance lost to Democrat and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski in the November 2018 general election. Malinowski won the election with 51.5% of the vote; Lance received 47% of the vote.


Lance was sworn in as a Member of Congress on January 6, 2009, and was appointed to the House Financial Services Committee, where he worked on a wide range of issues relating to the financial services sector and the American economy. In 2011 Congressman Leonard Lance left the House Financial Services Committee and had been appointed to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.[39]

In 2017, Lance was named to the House Ethics Committee.[40]

Lance was a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership.[41]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships

Political views[edit]

Lance served as the Republican chairman of the Rare Disease Caucus. The goal of the caucus was to get Members of Congress to support passing bills that help people who suffer from rare diseases.[45] Seventy-six Members of Congress are caucus members.

Lance was also a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus. The goal of the caucus was to work in a bipartisan way to solve important issues.[46]

As of July 2018, Lance had voted with his party in 86.1% of votes in the 115th United States Congress and voted in line with President Trump's position in 87.1% of votes.[47][48]

Lance described himself as a "moderate conservative" and a "deficit hawk." In 2018, NJ.com described him as "New Jersey's most vulnerable Republican lawmaker in a state that clearly doesn't like President Donald Trump," making him "more willing to vote against Trump and his GOP colleagues." In 2017, his voting record was more liberal and less conservative than his lifetime record in Congress, causing Lance's ratings from conservative interest groups to dip while his ratings from liberal interest groups improved. He opposed efforts by his party to repeal the Affordable Care Act and voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which targeted New Jersey and other high-tax states. Congressional Quarterly found that only eight other Republican members of Congress were more likely than Lance to cross party lines. In the first session of the 115th United States Congress, the Lugar Center rated Lance the 13th most bipartisan House member, up from 75th in 2016.[49][50]

Budget and economy[edit]

In 2011 Lance voted for the Balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution.[51] He also opposed President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and argued that it contained too much wasteful government spending.[52]

Lance voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. He was one of four Republicans from New Jersey to vote against the bill. He cited New Jersey's high property taxes and poor deductions for being the rationale behind his vote.[53] On poor deductions, he specifically pointed to the lack of state and local tax deductions (SALT) in the law.[54]

Donald Trump[edit]

As of September 2018, FiveThirtyEight had found that Lance voted with President Trump 88% of the time, and was the 31st-most partisan Trump supporter in the House when compared to his district's voting patterns as of September 26, 2018.[55]

In the 2016 presidential primaries, Lance endorsed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He endorsed Donald Trump in the general election, saying that "I have always supported the Republican nominee for President of the United States dating back to my first vote for Richard M. Nixon in 1972. While no one would confuse my personality with his, Donald Trump will have my enthusiastic support for President against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders."[56]

After endorsing Donald Trump in the 2016 election,[57] Lance has criticized at least one of the President's early policies. Lance condemned President Trump's 2017 executive order that curtailed the immigration of people from seven countries in the Middle East, calling it "rushed and poorly implemented."[58] Lance was supportive of Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court[59] and his Mexico City Policy.[60]

In January 2017, protesters taking part in the 2017 Women's March marched to Lance's office in Westfield, New Jersey.[61][62] In Watchung in 2017, citizens groups opposed to the policies of Donald Trump vowed to hold representatives accountable, and specifically targeted Lance and senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez accountable to the wishes of voters, not the president.[63]

In November 2017, Lance rejected Roy Moore, who was supported by Trump as the Republican candidate in the U.S. Senate special election in Alabama, telling Chris Cuomo of CNN's New Day that "I do not think he should be elected to the United States Senate" and urging voters in Alabama to write in an alternate Republican.[64]


Lance's lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters is 23%; his 2017 score was 34%.[65] As of October 2018, his rating on Clean Water Action's scorecard for the 115th congressional session was 33%.[66]

Lance supported the Keystone XL Pipeline but has opposed pipelines in New Jersey. In 2014, Lance voted for H.R. 5682, which authorized TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. to construct, connect, operate, and maintain the pipeline and cross-border facilities. He said "The project will create American jobs and American energy and reduce North America's dependence on foreign oil. It has bipartisan support in Congress and the backing of labor and business alike."[67] Lance opposed the PennEast Pipeline, which crosses New Jersey, saying that "allowing taxpayer-protected open space to be used as PennEast intends would be fiscally and environmentally irresponsible."[68][69] He has also said that the project would be harmful to farmland preservation along the Delaware River Watershed.[70] In 2014, he said "it is my hope that PennEast Pipeline company representatives will reexamine the project's proposed path and work with New Jersey's two U.S. Senators, the congressional delegation, state and local elected officials as well as concerned citizens in presenting a new plan that protects property rights and preserves public and private lands."[71]

On September 9, 2014, he voted in favor of H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014. The purpose of the act was to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with a change to the Clean Water Rule, which defines "waters of the United States" (the EPA is tasked with protecting the waters of the United States). Farmers feared that the rule would include their drainage ditches, while the EPA said that it would apply only to waters found in wetlands next to larger bodies that are 'waters of the United States'." H.R. 5078 passed but never took effect because the related Senate bill was never acted on. On January 13, 2016, he voted to invoke cloture on a joint resolution repealing the Clean Water Rule that defines "waters of the United States" which fall under the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers and the EPA. The resolution was vetoed by President Obama.[72][73][74][75][76][77]

In 2014, Todd Mitchell, Lance's chief of staff, characterized him as a skeptic on human involvement in climate change, saying that he believes that "climate change is occurring and human activity is a contributing factor. But it's uncertain how much of the warming is attributable to humans and how much is attributable to other factors."[78] On December 1, 2015, he voted for S.J. Res. 24, to repeal the Clean Power Plan rules published by the EPA on October 23, 2015, that would have established the first national carbon dioxide emission guidelines for existing power plants.[79][80][81] At a town hall in April 2017, he embraced the need to address man-made climate change.[82]

In 2008, after a group opposing his candidacy sent out a mailer criticizing Lance's environmental record, Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club defended Lance, saying he had "an excellent record."[83] In 2009, Lance was one of only eight Republicans in the House who voted in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill that included a cap and trade provision to address global warming.[84][78] However, Tittel has since soured on Lance, suggesting in a 2018 op-ed in the New Jersey Star-Ledger that Lance "used to vote for the environment and now does not."[85]

Foreign policy[edit]

Lance was one of nine lawmakers investigated by the House Ethics Committee for taking a trip in May 2013 to Turkey and Azerbaijan paid for by the Azerbaijan state-owned oil company;[86] Lance was later cleared of wrongdoing by the committee.[87]

In 2015, Lance voted against the Iran Nuclear Deal in what he described as 'one of the most consequential votes' he has taken in Congress.[88] He said that the agreement does not prevent the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism from attaining nuclear weapons.[88] Since President Obama signed the Iran Nuclear Deal, Lance has sponsored legislation that would add additional sanctions on Iran.[89]

Lance believes that Israel is entitled to its independence and that any Middle East peace pact must involve the recognition of Israel's right to exist as a free, Jewish State.[90]


According to a 2016 analysis by political nonprofit Vote Smart, Lance generally opposes gun control legislation.[91] In 2013, Lance was criticized by the father of a Virginia Tech victim who wanted Lance to be more supportive of gun control measures.[92] In 2016, Lance disagreed with members of Congress who staged a sit-in to force a vote on gun control.[93] In March 2017, Lance was one of two House Republicans who broke with their party to oppose the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, which "would require a judge to rule that veterans posed a danger to themselves or others before they could be denied the right to buy guns." The NRA had spoken out in support of the legislation.[94]

In December 2017, Lance opposed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would require states to honor concealed weapons permits for people who got them in other states. Lance was one of 24 co-sponsors on legislation that would ban bump stocks.[95]

In February 2018, Lance read a letter on the U.S. House floor urging Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to schedule a vote on legislation that would improve the national background check system for gun purchases. The letter, signed by 19 Republican members of the U.S. House, said passing the bill, which has been introduced by U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R) and Chris Murphy (D), would be an "important step toward making our country safer from gun violence."[96][97] That same month, he called for a lifting of the 1996 federal ban of research into gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and co-sponsored legislation which would lift the ban.[98][99]

Health care[edit]

Lance has been a critic of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) since its inception, voting against it in 2009 and voting to repeal it on multiple occasions. Lance voted to send the American Health Care Act of 2017, the Republican Party's replacement plan for Obamacare, out of committee.[100] He ultimately opposed the legislation on the House floor, becoming the first House Republican in New Jersey to oppose the legislation, and one of 20 who voted against the final bill.[101]

Lance is the Republican chairman of the Rare Disease Caucus, a group whose goal is to get Members of Congress to support passing bills that help people who suffer from rare diseases.[102] As part of his work for the Rare Disease Caucus Lance in 2013 re-introduced the Modernizing Our Drug and Diagnostic Evaluation and Regulatory Network Cures (MODDERN) Act, a bipartisan bill intended to encourage new innovative treatments for a variety of diseases and ailments.[102] The MODDERN Drug Act proposes to reevaluate and reintroduce drugs that were once in the development phase, back into production and testing. This bill would benefit patients suffering from a variety of ailments including but not limited to: degenerative conditions, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.[102]

In 2014, Lance introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama later that same year. The legislation expanded access to mental health services by providing additional federal funding for community mental health centers. In 2016, Lance sponsored the Expand Excellence in Mental Health Act, which would expand the legislation's mental health planning grants into an additional 24 states.[103][104]


Lance opposes amnesty and supports requiring employers to use the e-verify background check system.[105]

In June 2018, Lance became the lead Republican sponsor of the Reunite Children with their Parents Act, which was introduced by Democrat Brendan Boyle. The legislation seeks to "force President Donald Trump's administration to reunify the families split apart under his immigration policy." It would require the secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Attorney General to reunite asylum-seeking children who were taken from their parents when crossing the U.S. border.[106]

Internet regulation[edit]

Lance was one of the 107 members of Congress who signed a letter of support towards the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) efforts to repeal net neutrality. Lance has received $290,550 in campaign contributions from ISP companies since 1989.[107]

In March 2017, Lance voted to reverse an FCC privacy rule that prevented internet service providers from selling their customers' browsing data.[108][47] Explaining his vote, Lance said that the regulation created a "false sense of privacy" by treating internet service providers differently.[109][110]

LGBT rights[edit]

Lance has a 48 out of 100 rating from the Human Rights Commission regarding his voting record on LGBT rights.[111] Lance opposes same-sex marriage.[112] Lance voted against repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.[113]

In 2009, he co-sponsored Barney Frank's Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would have prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or joint labor-management committees.[114] He was also one of only 18 Republicans to vote for the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.[115]


Lance has a "D" rating from NORML regarding his voting record on cannabis-related matters.[116]

Personal life[edit]

Lance married his wife, Heidi A. Rohrbach, who is a VP at JPMorgan Chase, in August 1996. They have a son named Peter Frank.[117] He is a former trustee of the Newark Museum, of Centenary College in Hackettstown and of McCarter Theatre in Princeton.


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External links[edit]

New Jersey General Assembly
Preceded by
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 23rd district

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New Jersey Senate
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Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 23rd district

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Title last held by
Richard Codey
Minority Leader of the New Jersey Senate
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Party political offices
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Republican Budget Officer of the New Jersey Senate
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U.S. House of Representatives
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Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 7th congressional district

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