Freshman Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) has raised more than $550,000 during her first three months in Congress and now has more than $700,000 in her campaign warchest – numbers that could scare off potential Republican challengers when she seeks re-election to a second term next year.
More than 90% of Sherrill’s first quarter contributions have come from small-dollar grassroots donors, according to her campaign.
Sherrill raised almost $8.5 million in her bid to flip New Jersey’s 11th district in 2018 and outspent her Republican opponent by an almost 5-1 margin for a seat that Republicans had held since 1984.
It was Sherrill’s early fundraising prowess – she had raised more than $1.2 million by the end of 2017 – that helped frighten twelve-term incumbent Rodney Frelinghuysen out of the race. With a warchest of under $1.2 million, Frelinghuysen announced his retirement weeks after Sherrill announced her own fundraising numbers.
A former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot and assistant U.S. Attorney, Sherrill won her House race by 46,262 votes, 47%-42%, against Republican assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Montclair).
Sherrill’s first quarter fundraising numbers are similar to two other freshmen New Jersey congressmen: Rep. Andy Kim (D-Marlton) says he’s raised more than $550,000 and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) reports bringing in more than $560,0000.
“New Jerseyans know that 2018 marked the beginning of our effort to bring our values to Washington and make sure Congress works to improve the quality of life in North Jersey,” said Sherrill. “I am incredibly grateful for the continued support of our grassroots community, and their belief in putting partisan politics aside to get things done for New Jersey residents.”
The leading fundraiser in the New Jersey House delegation continues to be Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), who had a total haul of $830,063 during the first three months of 2019. The Bergen County Democrat now has $4.91 million cash-on-hand.
The 11th district has 4,065 more Republicans than Democrats and Donald Trump won it by 1% in 2016, but the GOP appears to view Sherrill as less beatable than Kim, Malinowski, Gottheimer and freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis).
So far, the only Republican to enter the race against Sherrill is Reinier Prijten, a political newcomer who currently lives in California. He is moving to Morristown in May, which will be the first time he’s lived in New Jersey.
One of the strongest potential Republican challengers, Morris County sheriff James Gannon, has already said he will not run for Congress in 2020.
Sherrill was already in the race at this point in the last election cycle, and filed her campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission on May 11, 2017.