CHATHAM – The race for the Democratic nomination in the 11th district has taken something of a sour turn in recent weeks, but the Mikie Sherrill, the target of much of the negative campaigning has not made such a shift herself.
Tamara Harris, another of the 11th district’s candidates, recently put out negative mailers and an ad attacking Sherrill for not being progressive enough, not being anti-Trump enough and being the party’s candidate. Sherrill hasn’t hit back.
“You know, she’s got to decide how to run her campaign,” Sherrill said after a get out the vote rally in Chatham Saturday. “We’re focused, really, on what we have to get done, and that’s getting out as many people, making sure everybody knows how to get to the polls, knows that Tuesday’s the primary, and just get all that support to win the vote.”
Chatham, deep in the long-standing Republican stronghold of Morris County, where Democrats have only recently started to gain ground, is exactly the type of town Sherrill, or any other Democrat, will need to win over if she wants to beat out a Republican challenger and take retiring Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s seat.
That being the case, staying silent and not trying to out-progressive Harris could be a savvy move on the former Navy pilot’s part. Such a move could alienate cross-over voters and right-leaning independents who could be convinced to cast ballots for a Democrat.
But Sherrill said that she wasn’t thinking about the general yet and was still focused on the primary. But, Sherrill has, to this point has kept much of her voluminous war chest banked.
Over the last full reporting period before the primary, Sherrill spent $340,742, while Harris spent $317,314, but those numbers don’t tell the full story.
Harris ended that period with more than less than $15,000 on hand, while Sherrill had roughly $1.8 million. Those numbers don’t quite reflect the present, as both candidates have received more money since, Harris mainly from a $60,000 loan of her own money.
Still, there could be a simpler explanation for Sherrill’s lack of spending, one that Sherrill herself invoked when asked about the strategy.
“I think this campaign has to be about issues,” Sherrill said. “That’s what we’ve been focused on, that’s what I’ve been focused on.”