A former 11th-district Democratic House candidate chose not to back his own party on Thursday and endorsed Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber over Mikie Sherrill for retiring Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s seat.
Mark Dunec, who lost to Frelinghuysen in 2014 by a landslide 25 points, announced he was backing Webber on Monday, citing a change in his party’s platform broadly and on Israel specifically.
“Over the last several years I have had increasing concerns that the mainstream Democratic elected officials and candidates have embraced a socialist ideology. I have witnessed this change not just on a national level but in our district, county and even in my town of Livingston, New Jersey,” Dunec said in a statement. “Furthermore, when I look across the political landscape, it is only the Republican Party that has demonstrated through actions its unwavering support for the State of Israel.”
Though Dunec is something of a minor player in the District, having only once run for office – and unsuccessfully at that – his endorsement does serve to blunt a similar defection that played out in Sherrill’s favor last week.
Rockaway Township Councilman Mike Puzio, a Republican, endorsed Sherrill earlier in August.
Dunec’s endorsement might make it a little easier for Webber to follow some of his favorite attack vectors, ones that focus on painting Sherrill as a far-left liberal.
“As the Democrat party turns more and more radical, many common-sense, moderate Democrats are joining our movement for more jobs, lower taxes, and greater opportunity for all Americans,” Webber said in a statement on Dunec’s endorsement. “Whether it’s proposing legislation to abolish ICE, pushing Bernie Sanders-style socialized medicine, or opposing tax cuts that put $6,000 back in the pockets of North Jersey families, it’s clear the Democrats are being led by its most extreme elements.”