Jay Webber spent a portion of his final day on the trail walking Parsippany’s main street, talking to businesses and their patrons about votes they might cast in when polls open in what was then 17 hours.
The walk was an example of how much candidates must rely on the work they’ve already put in by the time the election is hours away. Webber said he felt good heading into the final stretch, even if polls have shown him trailing Mikie Sherrill, the district’s Democratic candidate,
“We’re closing it up strong,” Webber said, adding later: “Just trying to spread our message of growth, economic opportunity and confidence and optimism in this economy.”
The mania over President Donald Trump that has gripped so many of the state’s other congressional races has left the 11th district largely to itself. Increasingly less recent polls have shown the president is popular there, and Sherrill has, more often than not, avoided taking potshots at Trump.
Elsewhere, the state’s most notable Democrats, including Gov. Phil Murphy and Sen. Cory Booker, have made Trump and his tenure a fixture of their stump speeches in an effort to animate voters.
Webber, whose race has seen the most investment and attention from national Republicans, including Trump himself — the president held a fundraiser for Webber in late October, and Vice President Mike Pence previously headlined two such events — was not concerned about the effects of Democrats’ efforts elsewhere leaking into the district.
“My position on the president has been the same form the beginning of this campaign: When he’s right, I’ll agree with him, and when he’s wrong, I’ll disagree,” Webber said. “When he’s cutting taxes and creating jobs, I’m going to help him with that. When he takes a position on, say, refugee policy that I think is a little too restrictive, I’ll say ‘hey, I think that’s too restrictive.’ When he doesn’t fund the gateway tunnel, I’ll say ‘that’s wrong. We need the gateway tunnel.’”
Similarly, Webber was unconcerned about the possibility of voters moving away from him as a sort of backlash over his association with and support of Trump.
“My job isn’t to be the political scientist or the pundit,” he said. “My job is to go out there and communicate my message to voters, talk about what they’re thinking about and what they’re caring about, listening to them and then sharing with them where I am.”