Shelley Levitan Adler (born October 4, 1959, Chicago, Illinois) is a lawyer, former councilwoman, and the wife of former Congressman John Adler, who died in 2011. In 2012, Adler unsuccessfully sought election as a Democrat to the US House of Representatives in New Jersey's Third Congressional District.
Adler was born and raised in suburban Chicago. She graduated from the University of Illinois, then went to Harvard Law School. There, she met John Adler; the two served as co-managing editors of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. After her graduation, she served as a judicial clerk for a Federal District Court judge in Washington, D.C. She married John Adler after her clerkship and moved with him to southern New Jersey; the couple eventually produced four sons. For about ten years, she practiced corporate law for a Philadelphia firm, then started her own legal consulting practice. She also served as president of the Cherry Hill PTA and as a councilwoman.
New Jersey Senate
John Adler, a member of the Democratic Party, served in the New Jersey Senate from 1992 to 2009, representing the 6th Legislative District. In 2008, he was elected to the U.S. Congress, representing the Third District. In 2009, Shelley Adler resigned from the Cherry Hill council, citing time commitments related to John Adler's newly-taken seat in Congress, and took over his law practice.
After a single term, John Adler was defeated in 2010 by Jon Runyan, a member of the Republican party and a former football player. In March 2011, he contracted a staphylococcus infection which resulted in endocarditis leading to emergency surgery. He died on April 4, 2011.
2012 Congressional campaign
In January 2012, Adler announced that she would run against Runyan for her husband's onetime Third District seat in Congress. A 2011 redistricting had worked against Democratic interests: it had removed Adler's Democratic-leaning hometown of Cherry Hill from the district, while adding the Republican-leaning township of Brick. Nevertheless, Adler was regarded as a strong candidate: The Cook Political Report changed its rating for the Third District race from "Likely Republican" to "Leaning Republican".
In the campaign, Medicare and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) emerged as significant issues. Adler released a television commercial accusing Runyan of seeking to dismantle Medicare, declaring "Congressman Runyan is in favor of balancing the budget on the backs of seniors"; the commercial stated that Runyan wanted "to raise Medicare costs $6,400 a year". Runyan countered that the changes he supported would ensure the long-term health of the medical program, and that they would have no effect on people currently aged 55 or above.
Runyan, an opponent of the PPACA, accused Adler of "ducking and dodging my challenges to take a position on Obamacare". Adler stated that she would not have voted for the PPACA in 2010, but now believed that it should be improved instead of repealed outright; an Adler spokesman asserted that "Congress must address the rising cost of health care". Runyan declared that the health-care measure was "one of the largest tax increases on the middle class in recent memory", and that "[w]e were told that Obamacare would strengthen Medicare, but, in fact, the bill diverts $500 million from Medicare to pay for other provisions of Obamacare".
The redistricting that removed Adler's residence from the district was also exploited by both sides. A Runyan spokesman criticized Adler for running to represent a district in which she did not live; Adler accused Republicans on the state's redistricting commission of "political shenanigans", declaring, "They pulled Cherry Hill out of the district so that I wouldn't run".
As of September 22, 2012, Adler had raised approximately $633,000 and spent $140,000, leaving $493,000 cash on hand. At that date, comparable figures for Runyan were $1,430,000 raised, $533,000 spent, and $903,000 on hand.
Adler met her husband John in law school. He converted to her faith of Judaism in 1985, having been raised an Episcopalian. After they graduated, they returned to South Jersey and settled down in Cherry Hill. They resided in Cherry Hill with their four sons until his death in 2011.
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