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A lawn sign for Robert Crook's campaign for Congress in 2018. Photo courtesy of Twitter.

Crook says he won’t run for Congress

NJ-11 Republican drops out, clearing the field for Becchi

By David Wildstein, March 25 2020 10:49 am

Now the Republican field is clear for Rosemary Becchi.

Her only announced opponent for the GOP congressional nomination in New Jersey’s 11th district has decided not to run.

“Unfortunately, it’s not an environment I want to be involved with,” said Robert F. Crook, a Montclair accountant who had entered the race for the chance to take on Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair).

Crook, 58,  had initially entered the race as a self-proclaimed moderate when Republicans were searching for someone to take on Sherrill.

Becchi decided to switch districts in January, dropping her challenge to Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) in the 7th and instead running against Sherrill.

The front-runner for the GOP nomination, former Kinnelon councilman Larry Casha, dropped out of the race.  Other potential contenders, trucking company executive Jerry Langer and former gubernatorial aide Patrick Allocco, decided against running.

That left Crook as Becchi’s lone opponent in the June 2 Republican primary.

Crook ran as an independent in 2018 and received less than 1% of the vote.

His name brought him a little bit of attention in that race as he proudly displayed his campaign signs: “Crook for Congress.  Honesty, Integrity, Compassion.”

My name is not a detriment, it’s a plus,” Crook told the New York Post.  ““It makes people laugh — people are so sick of politics these days — and it gets their attention.”

Sherrill appears to have also avoided a primary when he only challenger, Morris County College professor Mark Washburne, told the New Jersey Globe on Tuesday that he had dropped out of the race.

Washburne ran for the open 11th district seat last year.  Sherrill beat self-funder Tamara Harris by a 77%-15% margin, with Washburne finishing third in a five candidate field with 3% of the vote.

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