Put that on ICE: Dueling Sheriffs in CD11

Which candidate in Congressional District 11 supports ICE?

Recent public statements suggest that both Republican Jay Webber and Democrat Mikie Sherrill back what is officially known as the agency for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But it’s not that simple.

Webber held a press conference Wednesday afternoon at his Whippany campaign headquarters to denounce Sherrill for not standing with ICE. Webber, in fact, claimed Sherrill has organized recent demonstrations “calling for the abolition of ICE.”

But unbeknownst to Webber, the Sherrill camp sent out a statement about an hour before Webber’s press event began, saying she wants comprehensive immigration reform, but that she “does not support abolishing ICE.”

This was a clear attempt by the Democrat to outfox her Republican opponent.

All press events are generally well-known in advance, so it sure seemed apparent that Sherrill distributed her statement to upstage Webber’s event.

Webber saw things differently.

His take was that Sherrill saw what he was doing and that she “flip-flopped” her position.

The Webber camp points to a June 22 demonstration outside the Morristown office of Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, the district’s sitting, but retiring, congressman.

That protest, which Sherrill attended, ostensibly was to denounce child separations on the Mexican border. Webber said it included speakers and attendees who supported open borders and the abolition of ICE.

The Sherrill camp says regardless of what others may have said, eliminating ICE never has been the Democrat’s position.

Webber was unimpressed, noting that Sherrill had done nothing until Wednesday to clarify her position on ICE.

This sparring between Webber and Sherrill is taking place when ICE is drawing sharp criticism from the left wing of the Democratic party. It is quite obviously to Webber’s benefit to link Sherrill to the far left of her party.

At today’s event, he said Sherrill is supported by far left groups like NJ-11th for Change and Wind of the Spirit.

The 11th for Change group formed originally to oppose Frelinghuysen and recently endorsed Sherrill. Wind of the Spirit is a Morristown-based immigrant rights group. Like just about all political labels, whether these groups are truly far left  has to do with your personal view.

What Webber personally must hope is that labeling Sherrill as “left wing,” or at least too liberal for the district, is going to stick. Earlier in the campaign, he referred to her as a Nancy Pelosi Democrat, but that GOP applause line may no longer be relevant, Sherrill has said she would not support Pelosi for House Speaker if she wins and Democrats take control of the House.

This line of attack by Webber is not an easy one.

Citing her own military and law enforcement background, Sherrill’s statement accused Webber of planting “false narratives about former federal prosecutor and U.S. Navy veteran Mikie Sherrill.”

Webber was joined at his press conference by Sussex County Sheriff Mike Strada and Morris County Sheriff James Gannon. Both are Republicans. Also on hand was Mike Kelly, a retired ICE agent.
Strada also accused Sherrill of organizing anti-ICE protests. Gannon said there are no doubts that Webber stands with law enforcement when it comes to immigration law. Gannon also mentioned heinous crimes committed over the years by those in the country illegally, including child pornography and the murder of a young boy in Morristown.

Sherrill also had two sheriffs on her side, both of whom were Democrats.

They were Armando Fontoura of Essex County and Richard Berdnik of Passaic County. Both said in statements that Sherrill is a strong supporter of law enforcement. So, this campaign has three months to go and we already have dueling sheriffs.

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