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Assemblywoman Aura K. Dunn. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Aura Dunn mulling House run against Mikie Sherrill

Republican assemblywoman could emerge as GOP candidate in NJ-11

By David Wildstein, January 14 2022 12:08 pm

Assemblywoman Aura K. Dunn (R-Mendham) is considering a bid for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th district against Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair).

“I haven’t said no,” Dunn told the New Jersey Globe.  “Running for Congress has always been a consideration of mine.”

If Dunn runs, she could emerge as the top-tier recruit Republicans have been looking for to take on Sherrill.

So far, seven Republicans are seeking the nomination: Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen; Morris County GOP State Committeeman Larry Casha; former assistant Passaic County Prosecutor Paul DeGroot; former Ridgefield Park Councilman Robert Kovic; attorney Larry Friscia; Iraq War veteran Toby Anderson; and screenwriter Hillery Brotschol.

But Dunn has a narrow window to make a final decision.  Republicans will begin screening committees and county conventions this winter, and Dunn would have a late start in fundraising.

The new 11th is more Democratic than the one Sherrill flipped in 2018 after 34 years of GOP control.  It has lost Republican towns in Sussex and northern Passaic and added Democratic strongholds like Maplewood, Millburn, South Orange and Dover.  Dunn’s hometown, Mendham Borough, is now in the next-door 7th.

Still, the 11th remains potentially competitive going into President Joe Biden’s mid-term election, where the party occupying the White House traditionally loses House seats. Biden won 58% of the vote in the newly-drawn 11th and Gov. Phil Murphy carried the district with 52% last year.

A former Sesame Street lobbyist, Dunn served as a top aide to Sherrill’s predecessor in Congress, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen.

Dunn won a special election convention to fill a vacant State Assembly seat in 2019 with 74% of the vote and won a 2020 special election by a six-point margin and a 6,203-vote plurality.  In that race, she received the most votes ever cast for an Assembly candidate since the state moved to a 40-district map in 1973.

She won a landslide re-election in 2021, defeating Democrat Lauren Barnett, a former mayor of Mountain Lakes, by 8,861 votes.

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