Editor’s note: this story was updated at 8PM to include new comment from the Webber campaign.
New Jersey Republicans are showing shades of 1990, when Bill Bradley blew a 30-point lead by refusing to weigh in on Jim Florio’s $2.8 billion tax increase. Bradley kept his U.S. Senate seat with just 50.4% of the vote. The following year, Republicans rode the anti-Florio wave to pick up 10 Senate seats and 21 Assembly seats.
Today, the top three Republican leaders in New Jersey took aim at Mikie Sherrill, the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 11th district, trying to tie her to Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed tax increases, and Sen. Bob Menendez’s ethical woes.
And tomorrow, Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick will join Menendez’s opponent, Bob Hugin, for a Trenton press conference. They are expected to bring the Democratic U.S. Senator into the discussion of the state budget and possible government shutdown.
“I think it’s fair for voters to ask themselves, if Mikie Sherrill won’t stand up to Phil Murphy in New Jersey, will she be just another Democrat politician toeing the party line in Washington?” Kean said “For now, that answer seems to be yes. New Jersey cannot afford to send Washington Democrats a rubber stamp.”
Steinhardt accused Sherrill of refusing to stand up for her constituents as Murphy is “championing a budget that raises taxes indiscriminately on every New Jersey resident.”
“Mikie Sherrill’s allegiance to Menendez and Murphy should alarm every voter in that district and sends a clear message that she’s the wrong person to send to Washington,” Steinhardt said.
Bramnick, who has served with Sherrill’s Republican opponent, Assemblyman Jay Webber, for a decade, says that Webber will be “a consistent voice in Washington for lower taxes and fiscal responsibility.”
“I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with Jay Webber for years as he’s fought for lower taxes on our families and businesses,” said Bramnick. “As unabashedly liberal Governor Murphy gets ready to set New Jersey Taxpayers back years on their financial plans with higher taxes, Mikie Sherrill owes the voters an answer to a simple question: Should the highest taxed citizens in America be taxed further? Her party’s leader, Governor Murphy, says yes and plans to campaign for her.”
Sherill today called on Webber to stop supporting higher taxes for 11th district residents, pointing out that than half of the taxpayers in the district take the state and local tax deduction.
“When Congress targets New Jersey, there shouldn’t be any question as to how our leaders react. And yet, Assemblyman Jay Webber vocally supports this bill that raises taxes in New Jersey, explodes the national deficit, increases healthcare premiums, and threatens Social Security and Medicare,” said Sherrill. “At a time when families are worried about how they are going to pay their bills or afford their homes because of this plan, we need leaders who oppose federal tax increases on our residents.”
Kean, Bramnick and Steinhardt are all considered potential Republican gubernatorial candidates against Murphy in 2021.
On Wednesday night, the Webber campaign criticized Sherrill for refusing to address her support or opposition to Murphy’s budget proposal.
“Another day, another dodge from Mikie Sherrill on her party’s leader’s tax hike plan. In response to leading officials asking if Mikie supports unabashed liberal Governor Murphy’s impending massive tax hikes, she chose to launch a hyper-partisan DC-style attack on Jay Webber, and declined to give a simple answer to a simple question,” said Webber campaign manager Phil Valenziano. “Does Mikie Sherrill support the $1.5 Billion Dollar tax hikes that her party is about to drop on the hardworking taxpayers of New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District? Residents of NJ11 deserve to know. Hopefully she figures out her answer in less time than it took her to decide she wanted to move to the district.”