Morris Plains, NJ – After some speculation circulated that he may pass on the fracas altogether, Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) jumped into the race to succeed retiring Congressman and House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen on Saturday morning with both feet.
“The 2018 elections present our great nation and Republican Party with an important choice. We can give in to the angry intimidation of the far left who seek to ‘resist’ every idea that comes from someone who doesn’t share their outlier extremism. Or we can stand up for the beliefs and principles that have served our country so well for so long and continue the progress we’ve made in the last year toward reviving our economy, creating more and better paying jobs, strengthening the rule of law, and restoring America’s security and standing in the world. I choose the latter,” said Assemblyman Webber in a statement.
“Over the last several days, citizens across the 11th District and the country have urged me to step forward to represent our shared values. I accept that challenge, and taking on tough challenges is nothing new to me. I’ve led the fight on the Assembly floor against the Democrats’ reckless tax hikes. I have been on the forefront of a bipartisan effort to improve our public schools by rewarding and encouraging good teachers, and making it easier to fire bad ones. And when the Democrats – and some in my own party – wanted to throw billions of tax dollars at the richest companies in the world instead of providing property tax relief for everyone, I said no,” Webber added.
The 40-something Johns Hopkins alum, Morris County attorney and father of seven joins a field that includes a fellow Morris legislator, Anthony Bucco (R-25) who’s in the exploratory phase of the race along, as well as several other possible rivals including trucking mogul Jerry Langer (who’s spoken with national Republicans who like his self-funding potential) and state Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40) (a tough campaigner and the favorite of the “let’s not let Morris have the seat again” faction). There are others reportedly making calls, too, including Sussex County Freeholder Sylvia Petillo.
Webber’s decision puts him in direct conflict with a longtime ally and district mate, state Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26), who is also actively exploring a run of his own.
The lack of a line in Morris makes things all the more interesting. For example, Assemblyman Bucco enjoys widespread support among the Morris County establishment (that county comprises at least half of the traditional June primary GOP electorate), but Webber’s district contains the majority of NJ-11 voters. Assemblyman Webber is also a popular figure among New Jersey grassroots conservatives both inside and outside of Morris politics.
Whoever emerges from the primary will face presumptive Democrat nominee Mikie Sherrill in November.
“In the coming months, I will offer a candidacy, first to Republicans in the primary, and then to the general electorate, that will provide solutions to our country’s most troubling issues. Those solutions will be guided by my recognition that so many of our citizens sit at their kitchen tables each day not caring about ‘blue’ or ‘red.’ They simply want a limited and responsible government that respects their rights to live freely, and doesn’t bother them without good reason,” said Webber.