Upon the news that vulnerable Representative Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) – who has been on the DCCC retirement watch list since May 2017 – will not seek re-election, DCCC spokesperson Evan Lukaske released the following statement:
“After ducking his constituents for months, Representative Frelinghuysen has now denied them the chance to throw him out. His retirement comes as no surprise given his community’s disgust with this Republican Congress, which spent nearly all of last year throwing our healthcare system into chaos and ended it by increasing taxes on thousands of hardworking New Jersey families. Coupled with Congressman LoBiondo’s retirement, it’s clear the Republican brand has become toxic in New Jersey.
“Representative Frelinghuysen’s retirement opens up a very competitive seat that is moving quickly towards Democrats. With veteran and former federal prosecutor Mikie Sherrill’s strong candidacy, and the abysmal approval ratings of Speaker Ryan’s Republican Congress, Democrats are confident that this seat will turn blue next November.”
New Jersey’s 11th Congressional district is located in Northern New Jersey. It is a heavily suburban district that has been trending towards Democrats in recent years. Hillary Clinton lost the district by only 1-point in 2016 after Mitt Romney carried the district by 5 points in 2012.
The Cook Political Report already listed NJ-11 as a “toss-up.”
Frelinghuysen’s opponent, Navy helicopter pilot and former federal prosecutor Mikie Sherrill, is on the DCCC’s highly competitive “Red to Blue” program. Sherrill locked up the support of the four county chairs last December.
Polling has shown Democrats performing well here. A November PPP poll found that a generic Democrat led Frelinghuysen 46% to 44%, and a December PPP poll showed the margin had increased further following passage of the GOP Tax Plan, with a generic Democrat earning 49% of the vote compared to 40% for Frelinghuysen. In both polls, Frelinghuysen sported abysmal job approval ratings.
This district is over 62% suburban, highly educated, and wealthy.
The GOP tax plan is especially destructive for this district. NJ-11 ranks second in the nation by percentage of returns with the SALT deduction.