Democrat Mikie Sherrill defeated Republican Jay Webber for New Jersey’s traditionally red 11th Congressional District seat, in one of this year’s most high-profile House races.
Sherrill’s victory may mark the beginning of a new political superstar for the Democratic Party. The former Sea King helicopter pilot for the Navy and former federal prosecutor will be the first Democrat to hold the seat since 1985.
Sherrill says she will make issues important to New Jersey her priority, especially the Trump tax cut (which disadvantages high-tax states), health care and infrastructure.
“After being so invested in our country and the institutions of our democracy to feel that there were things going on in the country that were attacking my values, attacking our democracy, I really felt it was time to stand up and serve again,” Sherrill told Yahoo News.
Sherrill graduated from the Naval Academy and served in the Navy for a decade as a helicopter aircraft commander and a policy officer specializing in Russia. She attended Georgetown Law School and worked in the U.S. attorney’s office for New Jersey.
The enthusiasm among Democratic voters for female and military veteran candidates helped her raise an eye-popping $7,574,500 to Webber’s relatively meager $1,388,799. If the excitement for Sherrill follows her into office, she could very well become a major player for the party.
Her biography made it hard for Republicans to attack her on the campaign trail, although they tried. Webber called her “Montclair Mikie” to imply that she’s an out-of-touch liberal (Montclair, where she lives, is well-known as a progressive suburb of New York City) and followed the national GOP strategy of depicting Democratic candidates as hard-left zealots and identity-obsessed socialists — regardless of their actual politics or policy proposals. This attack rang hollow when applied to Sherrill.
Her moderate economic policies appealed to the affluent voters in her district. She attacked Webber for supporting the Republican tax plan, which caps deductions for state and local tax (SALT) deductions on federal income taxes.
Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who has represented the district since 1995, announced in January that he wouldn’t be seeking reelection this year. This denied the GOP the advantages of incumbency.
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