Zero Hour: Webber World

One of Jay Webber’s concerns when the year began was integrating a new puppy into a household that already had seven kids.

“I did not expect to be running a congressional race in 2018,” he said.

Fate – or rather politics – soon intervened.

Rodney Frelinghuysen announced he was retiring in late January and Webber quickly entered the race to succeed him. Four other Republicans have done the same.

The weekend found Webber holding a number of “Meet and Greet” sessions in all four counties of the 11th District. Late Sunday afternoon, he was in the Lake Telemark section of Rockaway Township.

He said people he met over the weekend wanted to talk about lowering taxes and fixing the nation’s immigration policy.

“The themes are the same as they were from the beginning,” he said.

But the answers on these and other issues are not always simple.

One resident, Jeff Orbach, told Webber that he and his wife have gotten “hosed” by the recently-passed tax reform bill.

This is going to be a tough issue for all New Jersey Republicans.

While the tax bill is so far the signature domestic accomplishment of the Trump administration, it can hurt many state residents by capping the deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000, Many residents pay more than that in property taxes alone.

Webber blamed Democrats in Congress for not negotiating the tax bill with Trump and Republicans, If they did, he said they likely would have gotten the cap removed, which is what he wants to do if elected.

Another questioner wondered why Republicans have not repealed Obamacare, which is something they have talked about for years.

Webber agreed that members of Congress should do what they say. He said he favored repeal and that he would follow through.

That was good enough for the man asking the question, who said he had been undecided. But when he left, he was wearing a Webber sticker.

Webber has time to fight the Democrats; the primary comes first.

He acknowledged that it’s been a spirited contest.

He sized up his two main opponents as a millionaire who is “telling a lot of lies” and a man who has the support of the party leaders in Essex and Passaic counties.

The first reference was to Peter DeNeufville of Mendham who has called some of Webber’s views “whacky.”

The second reference was to Antony Ghee, of Totowa,  who has the “county line” in Essex and Passaic.

In contrast to millions in the bank and party bosses in his corner, Webber says he has the average GOP voter on his side. While this is hardly a unique selling point, it can be effective.

But still, Webber wanted to focus on November. His belief is that Trump and Republicans are gaining popularity during good economic times.

He said what some have called an approaching  “blue wave” may turn out to be a trickle.
One thing both parties – and political observers – all seem to agree on is that the race in District 11 is going to be one of the most closely-watched in the country.

If Democrats are going to take control of the House, they’re going to have to win in an affluent, educated district like the 11th.

With that in mind, aside from which candidates survive the respective primaries, it’s going to be interesting to see the total number of votes cast by Democrats and Republicans in Tuesday’s primary.

It’s a small sample to be sure, but absentee ballot applications provide a hint. And in Morris County, the heart of the 11th, Democrats so far have requested about 300 more absentee ballots than Republicans.

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