Listen to audio version of this article
Rosemary Becchi is moving – not her home, her congressional district.
Becchi, who had been seeking the Republican nomination in Congressional District 7, now is about to announce a run in the adjacent CD-11. This means that her eventual target will be incumbent Democrat Mikie Sherrill instead of fellow freshman Democrat Tom Malinowski.
GOP sources say the move by Becchi has been under discussion for a week or so and that it crystallized a few days ago.
An immediate benefit for Republicans is that this avoids a CD-7 primary between Becchi and state Sen. Thomas H. Kean Jr, who is the favored candidate of the GOP establishment. Some may recall that Bill Palatucci, a Republican national committeeman, expressed unhappiness a few months ago that some Republicans were donating to Becchi. That dust-up presumably will end if Becchi, a tax policy lawyer, runs in the 11th District.
But how about the fact Republican Larry Casha, a lawyer from Kinnelon, already has said he wants to seek the CD-11 congressional nomination? It remains to be seen if he will continue to do so, or leave a race that really hasn’t begun yet.
Becchi’s likely move, which was first reported by Save Jersey, a conservative-leaning blog, also sets up an interesting dynamic.
Becchi lives in Short Hills, which is in the 7th District, not the 11th.
But Sherrill doesn’t live in the 11th district either.
Her hometown of Montclair is split between Districts 10 and 11. Sherrill’s house is in the District 10 part of town, a problem she remedied during the 2018 campaign by relocating to a rented house in the District 11 side of Montclair. But last year, she publicly announced that she was moving back to her original home, primarily because it has not been sold. Sherrill said at the time she still wants to sell her home and move into the district.
There is no requirement that members of Congress live in the district they represent. And over the years, it seems that voters don’t care as much about residency issues as journalists and partisans from both sides do.
At any rate, if neither candidate this fall actually lives in the 11th District, it would be no issue at all. But it certainly would be a bit odd.
In a release, Becchi slammed Sherrill for supporting impeachment, alleging that House Democrats are focused on “destroying a presidency, not fighting for solutions that we in New Jersey desperately need.”
For the record, Becchi had about $387,000 in her campaign account as of Sept. 30, 2019.
Sherrill has raised $2.2 million through the end of last year, her campaign said in a statement last week.
Going forward, there are tentative plans for Becchi and Kean to hold a press conference this coming week, presumably to officially trumpet her candidacy in District 11.