Sluggish-Looking CD11 Tries to Inject Life into Elecion Day

The grassroots group, NJ11th for change, sent out email messages to its followers today that talked about a “tingle in the air.” And that tingle, the group proclaimed, was “democracy in action.”

Well, it may be more like democracy inaction.

The District 11 congressional seat is about to become open. And there are contested primaries in both parties.

Yet, initial reports and observations suggest a low turnout in most of the district.

“It’s just such a low-interest election, I’m amazed,” a Morris County election official said Tuesday morning.


Open congressional seats are not common.

Al Barlas, the chair of the Essex County Republican Committee, said in an email a few days ago:

“Voter apathy to any election puzzles me year over year.”

John Sette is the former chair of the Morris County Republican Committee and a one-time county freeholder.

“I don’t think people care any more,” he said, noting that many politicians say one thing and do another.

That’s a fair point. But that type of criticism is not new. Apathy today is more prevalent than it was a generation ago. And there were certainly two-faced politicians in those days as well.

The Morris source pointed to another problem – the demise of newspapers.

Newspapers, of course, are still around. But due to staff cuts and a tendency to stress vacuous stories (as long as they get “clicks’), the nuts and bolts political coverage of the past no longer occurs. That certainly does not help interest people in an upcoming election.

Whatever the reason, low turnout is hardly good for democracy. That sounds like a cliche – and it is a cliche – but that doesn’t render it less true.

Still, the candidates soldier on.

On the CD-11 Democratic side of the aisle, Mikie Sherrill was marshalling her volunteers for one last canvassing effort starting in Montclair.

Her main opponent, Tamara Harris, is remaining optimistic.

Campaign manager Jessica Johnson stood in Harris’ Morristown campaign office today surrounded by people working the phones. She said the campaign is running phone banks, canvassing and that the candidate herself is visiting polling places.

“She just finished with Sussex County. We’re feeling good,” Johnson said.

Nonetheless, a Harris win would be a startling upset.

On the Republican side, Jay Webber began his day driving his kids to school. He then returned to Morris Plains to vote and planned to spend the rest of the day “on the phone with voters answering any final questions and encouraging them to get out and vote,” his campaign said.

Antony Ghee, who was attacked by Webber almost immediately for not being a “real” Republican, woke up today feeling happy.

“I feel really good about our prospects,” he said early this morning. “Truly happy about how we ran the campaign. I made a pledge that I would not run a negative campaign and I held true to my word, despite the lies and untruths told about me.”

Peter DeNeufville, who has spent lavishly on advertising, was also doing some last-minute traditional campaigning.

In fact, he was scheduled to be at the Denville train station today before the polls opened at 6 a.m.
Henry Kissinger presumably was not with him.

Dr. Kissinger added some national political gravitas to the CD-11 race by publicly endorsing DeNeufville, who has extensive foreign policy experience, on Monday night.

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