With 11 days left before voters go to the polls, New Jersey’s House candidates are in the final stretch and need to animate their base to make sure their get-out-the-vote machines are in the best possible shape ahead of Nov. 6.
For Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains), part of that animation hinges on outrage.
Earlier this week, Webber received a letter threatening his family. While the letter was quickly condemned by partisans on both sides of the aisle, its very existence has turned into a galvanizing force for the longtime assemblyman.
“My wife and I dealt with that,” Webber said of the letter at Sussex County Republicans’ annual Beefsteak event. “We called the police. we got it all under control, then we talked to each other. We said, ‘What are we going to do about this?’ And she said ‘well, we’re not going to back down. We’re going to fight harder.’”
“There’s only one way to deal with a bully, and that’s go punch him in the nose, so she said, ‘We’re not backing down. We’re going to fight harder.’ so I need you to fight harder with me,” Webber told the Republicans in the room.
It’s a potent message. While campaign rhetoric often crosses the line of civility, violence and threats of the same are another beast altogether. Put simply, it’s outside the bounds of what’s acceptable, by all standards except the most extreme.
Sherrill quickly condemned the letter after Webber announced receiving it Wednesday, but the fire was already lit under his base.
Webber’s since fund-raised off of it, and his recounting of the exchange with his wife drew heavy applause from the crowd of roughly 100.
Sussex will be key for Webber on election day. Along with Warren County, Sussex holds the majority 11th district’s Republican base, a point Sussex County GOP Chairman Jerry Scanlan wasn’t coy about.
“Statewide and federal Republican candidates cannot and will not win without Sussex Republicans delivering,” Scanlan told the crowd.
That’ll be as true for Webber as it is for John McCann, who also attended the party’s event.
“We’ve got 11 days of fight now. What are you going to say on the night of Nov. 6? You’re not going to be able to say you couldn’t do anything more, because I know you’re doing everything you can,” Webber said. “Get everybody to say to themselves ‘I did everything I possibly could to keep that speaker’s gavel out of Nancy Pelosi’s hands.’ If you can say that on the night of Nov. 6, we’re going to win it.”