Fresh off of a new abortion-focused attack ad from Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), former Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor Paul DeGroot, her Republican opponent, said at a press conference today that Sherrill’s attacks are “blatant lies” and that his stances on abortion are in line with those of most New Jerseyans.
“Others in my party are afraid to talk about this issue, but not me,” DeGroot said. “Mikie Sherrill is the radical who’s out of step with the majority of New Jersey. She wants to use abortion as a wedge, and she wants to make people afraid and fearful.”
Pressed for his specific stance on abortion access, DeGroot indicated that he supported the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling overturning the constitutional right to abortion, believing instead that it should be left up to individual states.
“I am not forcing Alabama’s and South Carolina’s values on us, nor would I want to force Jersey values on South Carolina,” he said. “Let’s not keep pressing on the issue that the values of Alabama and South Carolina are not worthy of their state. That’s what their state wants. And New Jersey is clear on what it wants.”
That means, he said, opposing federal legislation that limits abortion rights nationwide, as some Republicans introduced in Congress this week. DeGroot added that, in New Jersey, restricting abortions to within 20 weeks of conception with further exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother struck him as reasonable – though he notably refused to say what his own personal views were.
“Why do you think my personal belief has anything to do with this?” DeGroot said in response to a question from NJ Spotlight News’ Julie Daurio. “Your attempt to get my personal view – I understand why it might be exciting and inflaming, but what would be the benefit of knowing my personal view, when I said I would represent the district?”
Sherrill, like other Democrats in New Jersey and around the nation, has worked to tie DeGroot to proposals to limit abortion, most of which poll quite negatively. Republicans, meanwhile, have largely tended to deflect abortion concerns and focus on other issues instead.
At today’s press conference, DeGroot chastised Democrats and the media for focusing so heavily on abortion, saying that other issues like inflation, law enforcement, the SALT deduction cap, and local flooding should also figure prominently in the race for the 11th congressional district.
“Mikie Sherrill and these people – they’re using [abortion] as a weapon, they’re trying to make this a major, major issue,” DeGroot said. “This is how the game is played on their side, but it’s not how I’m playing the game.”