UPDATE: Includes response from Rodney Frelinghuysen’s office.
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (R-11th Dist.) first GOP challenger of 2018 is scheduled to announce his candidacy today, July 7, 2017, in Morristown.
East Brunswick attorney Martin Hewitt says he is changing his affiliation from unaffiliated to Republican to take on the 12-term Congressman in next year’s primary.
He plans to make his campaign official outside Frelinghuysen’s Schuyler Place office at noon.
“I have decided to run as a moderate Republican because…it is the Republican party that has lost its way,” Hewitt says on his website.
But it’s Hewitt who’s lost his way, according to a Frelinghuysen spokesman, who said the challenger does not live in the district.
“Congressman Frelinghuysen works very hard for his district year in and year out and works hard to earn the votes of each person he has represented during his time in public service, all the way back to his time on the Morris County Freeholder Board,” the spokesman said.
“As for Mr. Hewitt, he lives in a different congressional district. So as a Republican, the best thing he could do for the party would be to run against Democrat Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman where he lives down in Middlesex County, instead of running up here.”
Stay tuned for Hewitt’s response.
On his website, Hewitt says the GOP become “the party of big money and special interests…led by people who confuse bullying and angry tweeting with strong leadership,” says Hewitt, a private practice securities lawyer who chairs the American Bar Association’s Committee on the State Regulation of Securities.
On the Democratic side, Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot and former federal prosecutor from Montclair, has announced her intention to unseat Frelinghuysen, whose district spans parts of Morris, Sussex, Passaic and Essex counties.
She also lives just outside the 11th District. Although voters must vote within their home district, congressional candidates are not required to live within the districts they seek to represent, according to USA Today.
Hewitt says he advised members of Congress about predatory lenders during drafting of the Dodd-Frank Act. Frelinghuysen and fellow GOP Congress members voted last month to scrap most of that bill, contending that Dodd-Frank made mortgages harder to obtain.
Democrats said the banking reforms protect consumers and help prevent another financial meltdown like the one that sparked the last recession.
As a liaison to the bar association’s Commission on Law and Aging, Hewitt says he also has worked to raise awareness of financial elder abuse.
Additionally, he says…
- He supports a strong military, “but not at the expense of the core values for which the military must fight.”
- Healthcare is a right for all, “not a privilege for the wealthy.”
- People should live free from fear of prejudice, and of government interference “over their own anatomy” and restrictions on same-sex marriage.
- Nobody should fear losing a job for exercising free speech — an apparent reference to Frelinghuysen’s calling out a member of NJ 11th for Change to her employer.
Frelinghuysen, who hails from one of New Jersey’s most distinguished political families and is among the wealthiest members of Congress, chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
Activists have been pressing the Harding Republican to hold his first town hall meeting since 2013. So far, he has stuck to conference calls with constituents.