Kovic Angles for GOP Support in Bid to Take on Sherrill


Republicans are already lining up to get a crack next year at Mikie Sherrill in CD-11.

It’s hard to know what it means, if anything, but if you compare things to 2019, there were no serious Republican candidates in the district 16 months before the election.

Hillery Brotschol, a screenwriter, announced her candidacy months ago.

And just in the last few weeks, Tom Toomey, a businessman, and Robert Kovic, an attorney, both have announced plans to run.

And don’t forget that Rosemary Becchi, who ran last year, may run again. She has reactivated a public service group called Jersey 1st, which is a splendid way to remain visible to politically-inclined people.

A political maxim is that the party of the president loses seats in the mid-term election, so maybe there’s a belief that will make Sherrill vulnerable.

In an interview today at his home in Sparta, Kovic mentioned that the district had long been a Republican stronghold and that some are “scratching their heads” as to why it flipped.

There really is no mystery about the “flipping.”

Rodney Frelinghuysen gave up his reelection bid rather late in the game – in January of 2018. That forced Republicans into an acrimonious primary and the man who emerged, Jay Webber, was simply too right wing to win in a suddenly competitive district.

That was great news for Democrats, but what has to be even more comforting to Dems is that Sherrill was re-elected last fall by nearly 30,000 votes. The latest statistics give Democrats a voter registration advantage of about 9,000 in a district that includes most of Morris and parts of Essex, Passaic and Sussex counties.

Excluding Becchi, none of the other three announced candidates are known quantities among politicos.

That can be a plus.

Toomey in a release called himself a “self-proclaimed outsider.”

Brotschol said she speaks for millennials – she is one – and others turned off by what she says is the Democrats’ radical agenda.

“I’m here to flip the script on cancel culture,” she proclaims on her website.

Kovic, who served on the borough council in his native Ridgefield in Bergen County, said he’s concerned about immigration, border security and the “defund the police” movement, in addition to the economy and trade.

These are standard Republican concerns of the day.

What may be more relevant is what party leaders are going to do in the four counties. This is especially meaningful in Morris, which just adopted a county line.

While it’s still very early for such strategizing, Kovic did say that he’s reached out to the GOP chairs in the district.

Kovic also pointed out that unlike Sherrill, he lives in the district.

This raises two points.

The congresswoman does indeed live in a part of Montclair that is outside CD-11. That was not an issue last year, because Becchi, a resident of Short Hills, lived outside the district as well; Short Hills is in CD-7.

But it could be an issue in 2022.

We say “could,” because the election is more than a year away. Sherrill could move into the district, or redistricting after the 2020 Census could put all of Montclair into CD-11.

In another matter, it’s probably silly to take political press releases too seriously, but Toomey spoke of the need to get rid of “career politicians like Mikie Sherrill.”

Sherrill has been in Congress for two and a half years. She served in the Navy for almost 10. What career are we talking about?

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