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HANOVER TWP. – The first question at Mikie Sherrill’s Monday town hall got right to the point. Why is Congress wasting its time with continuing investigations of the president? We didn’t send you to Congress to do that! And for good measure, the questioner threw in the fact she doesn’t trust Adam Schiff.
This was new ground for a Sherrill town hall. Pointed questions have been rare at the half-dozen or so public events she’s held this year.
And it’s true that most of the roughly 300 people filling the town community center were on Sherrill’s side.
As the interrogator made her point, boos and catcalls descended upon her from the audience. Someone yelled, “question,” suggestion that the woman should simply pose a query and not give a speech. Sherrill more than once had to ask the crowd to quiet and to respect the views of others.
Things eventually settled down and Sherrill answered the question by saying she didn’t go to Washington to “impeach the president.” She said she was willing to let Donald Trump meet his fate in 2020, but that the president “crossed a line for me” by conditioning military aid to Ukraine on an investigation of Joe Biden.
Many in the crowd cheered.
Sherrill insisted that Congress in effect can walk and chew gum at the same time, saying things are being done while impeachment hearings ensue. She mentioned legislation bolstering election security, and attempts to bring down prescription prices and raise or eliminate the $10,000 deduction cap on state and local taxes.
The cap was a hallmark of the 2017 Trump tax cuts. But the so-called SALT-deduction cap hurt many New Jersey households and certainly helped key last year’s Democratic wins in four congressional seats previously held by the GOP.
This was the first town hall Sherrill has held since she backed the ongoing impeachment inquiry. It was also the first she’s held since Republican Larry Casha of Kinnelon announced plans to run against her next year. Casha was in attendance, but he didn’t ask a question.
A second Trump related question took aim at Sherrill’s disgust with Trump’s Ukraine dealings.
What if the president doing such deeds was a Democrat? Would Sherrill be similarly outraged?
The question may have been sincere. Or it may have been designed to trip her up.
Either way, she gave a good answer.
In saying that, yes, she would be just as upset at a Democratic president committing misdeeds, Sherrill reminded the crowd that she showed political independence before she was even elected. That was when she announced she would not support Nancy Pelosi for speaker, a pledge that she honored.
She admitted that it wasn’t easy to be a freshman Democrat in Congress and not support the speaker.
And then there was a question about appealing to Trump’s inclination to be a “hero.” This drew murmurs from the crowd.
The questioner wondered if Democrats would be able to entice Trump to support such things as more gun control laws and relief for so-called DACA students because the president would be able to take credit for them.
This seemed like a dubious proposition to be sure and Sherrill refrained from taking the bait, saying only that she supports the president when she agrees with him and opposes him when she doesn’t.
Town halls are never without off-topic questions about state and local issues and this one was no exception as the congresswoman was asked about such things as pensions for New Jersey teachers and pending state legislation.
Then there was one about what books she would recommend young people to read.
Sherrill picked a definite classic – To Kill a Mockingbird.