MOUNTAIN LAKES – Before attacking, Chris Christie set the scene.
Appearing at a Wednesday night fundraiser for CD-11 Republican candidate Paul DeGroot, the former governor related how the district has had a recent history of stellar representation in Washington. Christie mentioned Dean Gallo, who served from 1985 until his death in 1994, and his successor, Rodney Frelinghuysen, who served through 2018.
Democrat Mikie Sherrill replaced Frelinghuysen and in Christie’s eyes, doesn’t measure up to the district’s last two GOP House members.
In a blistering commentary, Christie criticized Sherrill’s background more than her professional record, which he dismissed as typical for just another member of the Democratic caucus.
Christie was U.S. Attorney for New Jersey before successfully running for governor in 2009; Sherrill worked for the same office after Christie departed mostly as an outreach and reentry coordinator. The position dealt with building trust between law enforcement and the community.
The DeGroot campaign has ridiculed the job, saying it’s not the same as going after “bad guys” or the Russian mob.
Christie did likewise.
Talking to about 30 or so supporters, Christie said Sherrill used the job merely to lay the foundation for a political career.
He also suggested the job was superfluous.
Said Christie, “You know who the community outreach person was in my administration? Me.”
DeGroot is a former assistant prosecutor in Passaic County, so his interest in the field is understandable. At the same time, the bulk of Sherrill”s pre-Congressional career – almost 10 years – was spent in the U.S. Navy. That, candidly, is a bit harder to criticize.
Sherrill’s campaign didn’t comment on Christie’s criticism.
Christie also mentioned a recent New York Times story in which Sherrill was one of 97 members of Congress identified as having sold stocks or other financial assets that intersected with their congressional work or reported similar transactions by a spouse.
A spokesperson for the congresswoman told the Times that Sherrill began selling off individual stocks when she joined Congress and that she has subsequently co-sponsored legislation to ban stock trading by members of Congress.
Christie said that act in itself should disqualify her from serving in Congress, adding, “She broke the law.”
Afterwards, the former governor said he wasn’t calling Sherrill a criminal, acknowledging that this was a “civil” violation. Christie also scolded political writers in New Jersey for not reporting on the issue.
There is a belief by some in political circles that Sherrill would be a prime candidate for higher office.
“Believe me, that’s what she’s up to,” Christie said, adding that he can sense when people want to be governor.
He said one way to stop the speculation is for Republicans and others to support DeGroot on Nov. 8. Christie, who lives in CD-11, said he has “maxed out” his contributions to DeGroot.
He urged others to do the same.