Missing in Action: The CD11 Sequel

There they sat Saturday afternoon at an elementary school in Morristown answering questions from students about gun control.

All four Democratic candidates seeking the District 11 congressional nomination were there: Mikie Sherrill, the acclaimed front runner, Tamara Harris, Mitchell Cobert and Mark Washbourne.

Two Republicans were there too – Pat Allocca and Martin Hewitt.

Allocca has the interesting idea of voting in line with what voters tell him to do over the internet; Hewitt leans left. Neither represents today’s mainstream Republican Party.

With at least 150 people watching, the candidates fielded questions from high school students throughout Morris County.

There really wasn’t much disagreement. Each candidate took turns demanding a nationwide ban on semi-automatic weapons, condemned the NRA and said more steps need to be taken to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of those who are mentally ill.

But that wasn’t the real story.

The real story was that three Republican candidates for the District 11 nomination did not show up.

They were Jay Webber, Antony Ghee and Peter DeNeufville.

Student organizers of the event said all declined the invitation to attend the forum, saying they had other commitments. And so did Rodney Frelinghuysen, the district’s sitting and retiring congressman.

Clearly, in the aftermath of the shooting in Parkland, Fla., guns are a tough issue for many Republicans. All tragic shootings prompt immediate calls for stricter gun laws, but the calls inevitably subside.

This time seems different.

The Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 has resulted in marches, protests and events like the one in Morristown all over the country. Some who have unfairly condemned the students for speaking out have faced a backlash. (See Laura Ingraham).

The dilemma for at least some Republicans is obvious.

For years. the GOP has been a strong backer of an individual’s right to own guns under the Second Amendment.  But it goes beyond that. For some Second Amendment advocates, merely talking about expanding any form of gun control laws is unthinkable.

Yet, on the other hand, many voters are clamoring for more laws, or more specifically,  for broader background checks and a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

That’s hard to ignore.

That’s a quandary some Republicans may not want to confront, at least not now, They will eventually have to confront the gun issue in the general election, but that is still a few months away.

This analysis suggests it’s better to ignore a student forum and avoid the risk of saying something that may annoy your base. Keep in mind that all the GOP candidates have to appeal to Republican primary voters before they get a chance to go after the Democrats.

That may be smart politics, but the no-show of a majority of Republicans running in the district turned Saturday’s forum into a rather lackluster event. There’s nothing all that interesting about everyone agreeing.

What was missing was real debate – debate Webber, Ghee and DeNeufville likely would have provided.

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One response to “Missing in Action: The CD11 Sequel”

  1. Thanks Fred, I posted numerous times about Webber. NJ TRUMPLICANS WILL be eliminated either in the Republican primary or certainly in the general election.

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