(CBS) – The pace is quickening in a race between a rugged political fighter and an ex-Eagle known for his toughness.

In the beginning, the challenge of Jon Runyan against Democratic incumbent Jon Adler was considered a curious race: A first-time outing by an ex-football player against a seasoned pro.  Now, it may be considered too close to call.

The latest surveys show Adler up on an average of just over four points.  But here’s the number that frightens both sides: Self styled Tea Party candidate Pete Di Stefano gets 4 percent in the latest Monmouth-Gannett survey.

Now usually that would hurt the Republican, but Adler is considered one of the most middle-of-the-road Democrats and those few percentage points in a very close race could hurt either side.

New Jersey’s third district is now in the category by both parties of national races to watch.

Reported by KYW’s Larry Kane

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