Inside the Langer Look-see in CD-11

Sherrill in action, sans Langer

There are multiple Republicans looking to run against Josh Gottheimer in District 5 and two main contenders, including Senate Minority Leader Thomas H. Kean Jr., vying to challenge Tom Malinowski in District 7. But as of now, there is no official Republican challenger to Democrat Mikie Sherrill in District 11, which abuts the other two. Time is getting short. The election is now less than a year away and the primary filing deadline is only, relatively speaking, five months away. Stepping into that void may be Jerry Langer, of Montville, who owns a trucking business. Langer, who briefly considered running for Congress in 2018, has formed an exploratory committee to size up his possible candidacy, according to a release he sent out this week.

Langer is well-known among Republicans as a donor and fundraiser. traits that certainly figure to help him if he does run for Congress. His release was infused with the rhetoric that is customary for this type of thing. In short, Langer said that if he does run, he will be “putting my money where my mouth is.”

Campaign cash, of course, is significant. Given the fact Rodney Frelinghuysen didn’t bow out of the race until late January, 2018, GOP candidates had little chance for prolific fundraising. Sherrill ended up outspending Republican Jay Webber by about 5-1.

What else is Langer saying?

His release presents a civics lesson, pointing out that Sherrill won a district that President Trump carried in 2016. True, but this is not actually news. District 11 had been solidly Republican on the federal level for generations until 2018. Still, Langer concludes that with Trump seeking reelection next year, Republicans are ready to “take back” a district that has more registered Republicans than Democrats.

Ah, but there is more to the registration numbers than the obvious.  Republicans do outnumber Democrats in the district, but by only 2,000, according to the latest data. And in what can be a revealing snapshot of the district, just two years ago, Republicans outnumbered Democrats in CD-11 by about 11,000.

And now we come to Nancy Pelosi.

Langer’s release says that Sherrill has voted with the Speaker 97 percent of the time and, in fact, has voted with AOC and other “radicals” 91 percent of the time. Both political parties use this argument. But in most cases, it makes no sense. That’s because so many votes in Congress are routine and non-controversial just about all party members vote the same way. Recall that Webber also tried to portray Sherrill as an ultra-liberal with less than satisfactory results. In truth, many of Sherrill’s consequential votes have been on issues likely supported by a majority of district voters such as expanding gun background checks, election security and infrastructure improvements.

Moreover, while Pelosi may be a villain to loyal Republicans, it’s debatable if independents feel the same way. Webber was beaten last year, because he lost the “middle ground” to Sherrill.

Who knows if Langer will end up running? Still, it would seem to behoove the eventual GOP candidate to find a way to appeal to independents and moderates of both parties. The GOP candidate need not worry about getting votes from staunch Republicans.

As an aside, Sherrill has a town hall meeting set for Nov. 25 in Hanover. If Langer is indeed running, or even if he is still thinking about it, he may want to attend.

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