The New Jersey Globe projects that Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) has won re-election, defeating Republican Paul DeGroot in the 11th congressional district.
As of 11:18 p.m. and with an estimated 61% of votes reported, Sherrill leads DeGroot by a 59%-41% margin, though that may change as more votes are counted.
Even if her margin ultimately falls, the victory is a big one for Sherrill, who was first elected in 2018 and is a rising star in the Democratic Party.
For more than two decades, the Morris County-based 11th district was represented by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding), an influential Republican who spent his last term in the House as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
But after the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, caught on among Democratic donors and raised more than a million dollars by the end of 2017. Frelinghuysen chose to call it quits rather than face a bruising battle, a major blow to Republicans hoping to hold the House; Sherrill eventually flipped the district 57%-42% against Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains).
This year, Democratic members of the state’s Congressional Redistricting Commission gave Sherrill a major boost, adding deep-blue territory like Millburn and Maplewood to the 11th district. The new district voted for Joe Biden by 17 points and for Gov. Phil Murphy by four points, a huge shift towards Democrats.
Those numbers were daunting for any Republicans hoping to bring down Sherrill, but several still launched campaigns anyways. The upset winner of the Republican primary was DeGroot, a former Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor who beat Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen 39%-35% despite having little establishment support in most of the district.
DeGroot struggled to catch on in the general election against Sherrill, who remains a fundraising giant. Spending $7.5 million of her own money and getting another $5 million in support from former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sherrill dominated the airwaves with ads slamming DeGroot on abortion; DeGroot only spent $558,000 total, not nearly enough to meaningfully push back on the barrage.
Thanks to that assortment of factors, most forecasters rated the race as either Likely or Solid Democratic. Now that Sherrill has won, the question is just how big of a victory she ultimately notches when all votes are counted.