2018: The NJ path toward flipping Republican congressional districts – Part V: Rodney Frelinghuysen’s CD11

AWOL

An opportunity of a lifetime is offered to us in CD 11 which Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, our most powerful congressman, has ruled since 1995. Being chair of a key committee and wanting to hold on to the position, he has too frequently hued to the will of House leadership rather than his constituents. It has been about 1,607 days since his last town hall.

Blue Jersey Editor Rosi Efthim has just posted an excellent summary of Frelinghuysen’s current position: “Everything’s clicking into place for the growing movement to replace Rodney Frelinghuysen, with the DCCC targeting him, the Cook Political Report ranking CD 11 as a Toss Up district, money flowing in to challengers, and a strong resistance leadership effort from Saily Avelenda in NJ 11th for Change.” Go here to read about and join NJ 11th for Change.

VOTER REGISTRATION / ELECTION RESULTS / PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RESULTS

CD 11 Rodney Frelinghuysen (R)
2010 U: 191,822, D: 100,090, R: 147,483 / Frelinghuysen: 122,49, Herbert: 55,472
2012 U: 229,687, D: 127,822, R: 152,280 / Frelinghuysen: 182,239, Arvanites: 123,935 / Presidential: 52% , Obama: 47%
2014 U: 229,409, D: 127,000, R: 151,136 / Frelinghuysen: 109,455, Dunec: 65,477
2016 U: 224,690, D: 151,995, R: 165,765 / Frelinghuysen: 194,299 Wenzel: 130, 162 / 2o16 Presidential:Trump: 49%, Clinton: 48%

Frelinghuysen has enjoyed strong victories in the last four elections. The district consistently has held more registered R’s than D’s, but the gap has narrowed to 14,000 voters. Romney won the presidential race handily in 2012, but Trump in 2016 won closely 49% to 48%. There needs to be more registered Democrats to help the challengers identify their likely supporters. In the non-presidential election years above Frelinghuysen has comfortably won needing less votes than just those who registered as Republicans, so two messages are that strong Democratic GOTV and attracting more Unaffiliated voters will be essential. A win is within our grasp, but we should expect a strong counterattack from the incumbent and national sources. NJ 11 for Change has invited all declared CD 11 candidates to a forum on Wednesday, November 29 in Morristown. For more information go here.

Although Frelinguysen voted against the tax bill (HR 1) which harms the pocketbook of New Jerseyans as well as our economy, and against the flood relief bill (HR 2874) which shortchanges the Jersey shore, on other bills he hued to the party line and voted against our interests:

  • The 2018 budget resolution (H Con Res 71) which sets the foundation for the tax bill and makes huge cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.
  • An appropriations bill (HR 3354) which provides insufficient funding for Environment, Interior and related agencies.
  • A Consumer Financial Protection bill (H J Res 111) which provides less protection.
  • A sanctuary bill (HR 3003) which is anti-sanctuary.
  • The Repeal and Replace ACA bill (HR 1215).
  • For more information on his voting history go to Vote Smart.

Comparisons can be odious, but Josh Gottheimer (D) who defeated arch conservative Scott Garrett last year spent $4,720,617. Tom MacArthur (R) won an open seat race in 2014 after spending $5,648,742, and in 2016 he spent $1,918,372 defending himself against challenger Lavergne who raised $600 and spent no money according to his FEC report. Frelinghuysen spent $1,672,002 in the 2016 race against challenger Wenzel who also reported no expenditures. His current Cash on Hand now is a relatively low $970,725. Today’s Republican incumbents are more vulnerable, but there is no denying that taking down entrenched Republicans can be expensive, particularly with the high cost of TV ads in our state. All too frequently in Republican strongholds the Democratic challenger has been weak and ineffective – a sacrificial pawn with no chance of winning who then devotes little time and expenses to the campaign. In 2018 the dynamic is the opposite.

Below are the challengers who have reported income to the FEC

  • Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot, federal prosecutor, and mother of four, says she can’t sit by and watch Donald Trump and Rodney Frelinghuysen threaten all the progress we’ve made. She is the only NJ 2018 challenger on Emily’s List as a recommended candidate. She has a fairly large $495,568 Cash on Hand. Her website.

 

 

  • Tamara Harris, a businesswoman, family advocate, educator and philanthropist says, “I look forward to speaking more with voters about how we can fix Washington, so people come before politics.” She has $448,290 (including $300,000 of her own money) as Cash on Hand. Her website

 

 

  • John Bartlett, Passaic County Freeholder (pictured left) has laid out his priorities: “Healthcare access and affordability, infrastructure improvement, college affordability, and environmental sustainability.” He has $247,134.73 Cash on Hand. His website.
  • Other announced Democratic challengers who have reported no financial data include, Mark Washburne a College professor & running advocate, Mitchell Cobert, an attorney, and Jack Gebbia a National Guards veteran whose website at the time of this writing was down.
  • Martin Hewitt (R) an attorney who calls himself a fiscal conservative and social moderate says, “I have decided to run as a moderate Republican because the Republican Party has lost its way and been overtaken by leaders more interested in protecting their personal power than serving the people who put them into office.” He has $405 in Cash on Hand. If he gains traction, Frelinghuysen will have to divert precious funds during the primary to defeat him. His website

2018 is our time, our moment to flip the 11th District, but let’s avoid overconfidence as Frelinghuysen has a history of high vote getting. Also Sabato Crystal Ball rates CD 11 as “Leans Republican” and Inside Elections and  Roll Call / Gonzales rate it as “Likely Republican.” Nonetheless the stars seem remarkably aligned. Can we flip this district? Yes we can.

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All registered voter and election results from NJ Division of Elections: Election Information Archive, except whereas otherwise indicated as in Presidential results.

Part I in this series provides introductory information and a deep dive into (CD 2) where Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo is retiring and the district has more registered Democrats than Republicans. Read it here.

Part II looks at the incumbent Republican Representative Tom MacArthur (CD 3) – he of much wealth but a tarnished reputation in today’s era of Trump decline. Read it here.

Part III takes a dive into CD 4’s long-time incumbent Chris Smith (R), a formidable vote getter, and CD 5’s new incumbent Josh Gottheimer (D), a must-win race who faces a strong challenge from Republicans. Read it here.

Part IV looks at the vulnerable incumbent Representative Leonard Lance in CD 7 where resistance efforts have made an impact, his voting record has been lacking, Hillary Clinton won in 2016, and challengers are gaining steam. Read it here.

The final Part VI will offer some general suggestions on how to flip these Republican districts.

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