With the 11th District race for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s seat entering the homestretch, candidates Jay Webber (GOP) and Mikie Sherrill (Democrat) appeared this week on WNYC to summarize their campaigns.
Brian Lehrer interviewed them separately.
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When pressed about President Trump, Webber, a state Assemblyman from Morris Plains, said he would “welcome” a last-minute campaign visit if Trump chose to make one.
While Webber said he likes Trump’s tax package (except for the cap on state- and local tax deductions), he disagrees with the President’s proposal to reduce the number of refugees allowed into the U.S., and he dislikes some of Trump’s tweets.
Our culture has grown “coarsened,” he said, and people want the rhetoric toned down. “We’ve seen it on both sides and people are tired of it.”
Webber accused Sherrill of lying about his vote against equal pay for women–a measure he says only would have benefited lawyers–and of dredging up “long-settled” issues to score political points.
Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor, said Webber’s claims of supporting women’s issues are disingenuous. The state lawmaker opposes funding for Planned Parenthood–advocating shifting money to clinics that do not provide birth control.
“Believe it or not, New Jersey was the first state to defund Planned Parenthood. We saw a decrease in breast cancer screenings and a rise in STDs (sexually trasmitted diseases),” said Sherrill.
She said residents across the district are not experiencing the Trump economic gains that Webber is trumpeting. Congress is paying for Trump’s tax plan “on the backs of New Jersey taxpayers,” who are losing massive tax write-offs on some of the highest property taxes in the nation.
“He’s always put his own partisan agenda first,” Sherrill said of her opponent. “He’ll talk about the need to reduce the deficit, yet he’s totally in favor of this tax plan that will explode the deficit.”
The candidates are vying to succeed Frelinghuysen, a Republican from Harding who is retiring after 12 terms. The 11th district spans parts of Morris, Essex, Sussex and Passaic counties.
Although Sherrill’s fundraising has dwarfed Webber’s, a recent Monmouth University poll showed her leading by just four points.
Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway have campaigned for Webber, and Trump hosted a fundraiser for him and tweeted his support. Former Vice President Joe Biden, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and the director of Emily’s List have come out for Sherrill, who also has a slew of media endorsements.
In a race where Independents are likely to tip the balance, it’s uncertain whether a Trump appearance would help Webber.
“If he would like the President to campaign for him, he should invite the president to do so,” Sherrill told Lehrer.
On Saturday, Sherrill has “get out the vote” rallies scheduled for Wayne (noon), Morristown (3 pm) and Parsippany (5 pm). On Sunday, she’s slated for Sparta (1:30 pm) and Livingston (3:30 pm). Webber’s campaign did not release his weekend itinerary.