Star-Ledger endorses Mikie Sherrill, calls Jay Webber “fanatical”

Yesterday, Tom Moran ridiculed House Speaker Paul Ryan for coming to New Jersey and trying to gin up interest in Jay Webber by painting fairly moderate military veteran Mikie Sherrill as some sort of wild-eyed zealot out to destroy America. It was almost funny, until the stakes in this race slap you back to reality. That was the Republican playbook last week; paint Democrats as a “mob,” their attempt to both project Brett Kavanaugh’s shouty ways onto us to distance themselves from it, and make the huge crowds showing up for Democratic challengers look like danger, instead of democracy. Moran summed Ryan’s exercised performance up as some kind of new-version red scare; “The idea is that the partisan divide in America is the result of Democrats lurching left, not the Republicans lurching right.” And as Moran makes clear, Webber’s embrace of all this makes clear he’s got nothin’.

 I even suspect Webber’s team of chopping up their own red signs to position him the victim of their imagined Democratic hissy-fit. Republicans can’t make up their minds if we’re snowflakes or terrors.

Now today, Star-Ledger formally endorses Mikie Sherrill. Not only because of her “sterling background” (Navy vet, chopper pilot, federal prosecutor), but also because Jay Webber is a “strict ideologue” with an “alarming record” in the NJ Assembly (and includes years when he was NJ GOP chair). The Ledger’s advocating regime change here in the crimson northwest territory of New Jersey, which has been represented in the House by a Republican since GOP-led redistricting moved the focus of CD-11 from Essex to Morris counties in the 1980s, a seat held by Rodney Frelinghuysen for 23 years and before then, GOP’s Dean Gallo. Regime change in the sector that gave us Chris Christie.

And well they should, as New York Times also endorsed both Sherrill and CD7’s Tom Malinowski. Here are some of Star-Ledger’s best pullouts:

“Jay Webber has been doing his best to cast Democrat Mikie Sherrill, his opponent for the 11th district seat in Congress, as the dark, fire-breathing radical in this race. But in reality, he is the fringe candidate.”

Webber claims he wants to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but it’s just not true. All the Republican plans to do that have been debunked as bogus. They would require insurers to sell you a policy, but at whatever outrageous price they want.

More informative is Webber’s actual voting record in our state. The lawyer and Assemblyman has repeatedly refused to defend coverage for various pre-existing conditions. He was the only legislator to vote against requiring coverage for the treatment of opioid addictions, and one of just three to oppose coverage for hearing aids for children. Really?

His other votes are just as extreme. Webber voted against paid leave for new parents. He opposed gay marriage in 2012, and before that, civil unions. Rather than debate the best way to stop the cruel and discredited practice of gay conversion therapy, he refuses to denounce it at all.

Sherrill is a centrist who knows her district is neither blue nor red. She’s vowed to fight for money to replace the crumbling rail tunnels into Manhattan, for a better tax deal for the middle class, and against any effort to weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Before Rodney Frelinghuysen even decided not to seek re-election, a powerful, mostly (if not all) women-led grassroots movement grew up in the district. Without question, the mighty NJ 11th for Change and others put the spotlight on Frelinghuysen’s lazy incumbent’s avoidance of hard questions or even much contact with his constituents. They did it in an imaginative, and witty way, by holding town halls without him since he never had any of his own, with a 6-foot cardboard cartoon of him on the stage. I don’t know what might have happened if a Democratic challenger had to run against a more accountable congressman, or even a Republican with a less odorous record than Webber. We don’t have to find out; the Republicans have already done everything wrong in this district that they can. Webber’s just the symptom. And even as more prudent Republicans distance themselves from the lemon-haired White House tweeter, Jay Webber is all in, because really what else has he got but this? On Thursday Trump is headlining a high-dollar Webber funder (at which Webber will doubtless be the least interesting attendee), on Trump’s own turf, one of his over-priced hotels in D.C.

I hope Mikie Sherrill makes him eat that. 15 days. Well-done, Star-Ledger.

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