Although Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen’s offices were closed in observance of Veteran’s day, three democratic candidates seeking to replace him addressed a large and enthusiastic crowd gathered outside despite the freezing cold. John Bartlett, Tamara Harris and Mikie Sherrill all braved blustery winds and subfreezing temperatures to support members of NJ 11th for Change in their effort to persuade Frelinghuysen to vote “no” on the Republican Tax bill facing a vote in the House next week. Jim Johnson who ran in this years governor's race, also spoke, highlighting the successes of the community of activists that culminated in Tuesday night’s wins across Morris County and the State. “You saw what community could do when you all come together,” he said to cheers.
Each candidate spoke of the importance of the grassroots efforts of NJ 11th for Change in their decision to run. “When I saw 11th for Change stepping up and creating fertile soil for conversation, for community, for coalition, that’s when I said, ‘OK’” said Tamara Harris in a short address in which she promised to speak up for those who felt vulnerable. Mikie Sherrill who spoke about the House Tax Bill’s burden on the middle class in the district, told the crowd, “I don’t know if I’d be running without NJ 11th for Change.” John Bartlett congratulated all who ran in this week’s election and reminded the crowd, “We have a new countdown. 362 more days until we replace Rodney Frelinghuysen.”
Those who came out to hear from the candidates were encouraged by the group’s interest in hearing from them. “It’s refreshing because Congressman Frelinghuysen seems to have withered as he attempts to thread the needle between Trumps highly partisan, incompetence and the moderate image that Frelinghuysen trying to hold onto without much success,” said Rene Dussault of Randolph.
The voters in the NJ11th are dismayed that he would vote for the house bill earlier this year that would have effectively removed healthcare insurance from millions of people, but his vote to advance the republican budget so they could pass their tax code reform may have struck even further into his district. The House bill strips taxpayers of our personal exemptions, State and Local Income taxes, Medical Deductions, and puts a cap on the Property tax deduction of 10,000 and a cap on mortgage interest deductions for home loans of 500k or less. “We’ve already heard from loyal Frelinghuysen supporters that his vote on this so-called reform is a bridge too far. People who have voted for him 12 times for congress will work against him if he raises our taxes to buy the fabulously wealthy like himself, Trump and Ryan a huge cut,” said Elizabeth Juviler, an organizer for the group.
“What can you expect from a Congressman who refuses to meet with his constituents, face to face? Of course he remains out-of-touch with real NJ needs.” added Lauren Caiella, NJ 11th For Change organizer.