Democratic Congressional candidate Mikie Sherrill painted her opponent, Republican state Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26th Dist.), as too conservative for the 11th District during a Thursday luncheon of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce.
“He’s always put his own partisan ideology before the people of this community, and I think he would continue to do so if elected in Washington,” Sherrill said at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany.
The Navy veteran, who dealt directly with the Russians as a policy officer, also expressed concerns about the Trump administration’s foreign policy.
“I’ve been concerned to see us pulling away from our traditional NATO allies and embracing Russia,” Sherrill said.
Video: Congressional candidate Mikie Sherrill at the Morris County Chamber of Commerce:
Sherrill and Webber, an attorney, are vying for the seat of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.), who is retiring after 12 terms.
The Democratic candidate said Webber is out of touch with the district, which encompasses parts of Morris, Essex, Sussex and Passaic counties. Taxes, healthcare and the economy are constituents’ top concerns, Sherrill said.
Webber has supported the Republicans’ federal tax bill that capped property tax deductions at $10,000, “despite knowing how bad it is for our economy” in New Jersey. And despite a leadership position in the state GOP, he has failed to get bipartisan legislation passed in Trenton, Sherrill said.
She also knocked Webber’s record on social issues.
“He’s somebody who doesn’t share our values–that has worked numerous times to make an amendment to our constitution to ban gay marriage. He’s voted numerous times to defund Planned Parenthood, which is harmful to women across our community,” the Montclair resident said of Webber, from Morris Plains.
Webber’s campaign responded on Oct. 2, accusing Sherrill of “running a divisive campaign focused on looking backwards and re-opening long-settled social issues.”
“Jay Webber is focused on looking forward, to unite people on issues that every North Jersey family cares about- lowering taxes, creating jobs, and fixing our broken immigration system,” said spokeswoman Ronica Cleary.
“The only person who puts partisan ideology above the people of New Jersey’s 11th District is Mikie Sherrill, which is evident in her fawning admiration for Nancy Pelosi, her support for Phil Murphy’s sanctuary-city agenda, and her choice to run with corrupt Bob Menendez,” Cleary said.
Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor, vowed to reach across the aisle to work for healthcare- and immigration reforms, universal background checks for gun purchases, and funding for the Gateway rail tunnel project. She also said she would continue Frelinghuysen’s advocacy to save Picatinny Arsenal from closure.
But Sherrill said it’s time for new leadership in Congress, including replacing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
“If we want to move forward and get new things accomplished, we can’t keep doing the same things,” said Sherrill.
Responding to a question from Chamber President Paul Boudreau, Sherrill said America’s NATO members should be pressed to contribute more funding toward the “common defense.” However, she asserted the U.S. must remain “in lockstep” with staunch allies such as the United Kingdom, Israel and others in NATO on key national security issues.
Her Navy duty included a stint as a policy officer working on communications issues with the navy of what was then the Russian Federation. She also worked on fulfillment of U.S. nuclear arms treaty obligations with the Russians.
“I’ll tell you as a former Russian policy officer, one of the worst things for the Russian soul, really, in national security, was the declaration of the Soviet Union as a failed state,” Sherrill said.
“And I think the attacks on our democracy are very particular and very targeted, because I think (Russian President Vladimir) Putin wants to point out that our democracy is not as strong. I think that is still something that he feels very deeply, that we declared the Soviet Union a failed state.”
Webber is scheduled to address the Morris Chamber on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to add a response from the Webber campaign.