Essex County Chairman LeRoy Jones thinks Republicans are scared to challenge Rep. Mikie Sherrill.
“Mikie is a golden find of the 11th congressional district, our congressional delegation and a rising star in Congress, and I think that scares away any would-be opponent,” Jones said. “She’s been steadfast. She’s been focused. She’s been engaged. She’s not been a shrinking violet at all. She’s at the forefront of the agenda that makes that district strong, and ultimately the country.”
Last year, Sherrill won a landslide 14-point victory over Assemblyman Jay Webber to take a seat held by Republicans since 1985.
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who held the seat for 24 years, did not seek re-election in 2018.
So far, only one Republican has announced a bid in the 11th.
Reinier Prijten, a manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers who had never lived in New Jersey, announced a bid against Sherrill in April but dropped his bid a little more than a month later.
Patrick Allocco, a former aide to New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, on Wednesday told the New Jersey Globe he was mulling a challenge to Sherrill.
Allocco sought the Republican nod last year but finished fourth in a five-candidate field with 4% of the vote.
For her part, Sherrill isn’t expecting to run for re-election unopposed.
“I don’t think that’s been decided,” Sherrill said when asked if she believed she was scaring off Republican challengers. “So, we’re just fighting hard right now to serve the constituents of the 11th district and to make sure we’re hearing from everybody, and then we’ll see what people decide to do.”