Some Jersey districts flip blue, contribute to Democratic House majority

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

Mikie Sherrill got flowers and hugs from Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo the day after Election Day. She helped lay a wreath to honor veterans in her first event as the congresswoman-elect from New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District. But even though an anti-Trump backlash helped propel her to victory, Sherrill’s from a district the president won by a point in 2016. She’s not expecting pressure to tangle with Trump.

“Not from people here in the 11th. I think people hear the expectation is we get some work done and Congress gets back to work and we see some real results here,” she said. “Because right now, New Jersey has been a little bit stuck with this tax plan, and the constantly rising cost of health care and the lack of infrastructure funding.”

“For her to win a Republican district the way she did was pretty amazing. I’ve been involved in politics for a long time. I haven’t seen that in Essex County,” DiVincenzo said. “She’s going to do what she has to do.”

One of more than 100 women candidates elected to Congress across the nation during election night, Sherrill’s buoyed by a movement born out of the Women’s March.

“You know, it’s kind of mixed because part of me feels like, ‘Why did it takes so long?’ But I’m thrilled to see the kind of numbers and hopefully we can continue to build on that,” Sherrill said.

Sherrill says she still won’t support Nancy Pelosi as speaker. Neither will moderate Democrat Jeff Van Drew who won Tuesday night. The win flips the predominantly Republican 2nd District by six points. But 7th Congressional District victor Tom Malinowski’s still open to backing Pelosi, and says he has a mandate to check Trump.

“We’re going to make sure, for example, that there’s no interference from the White House with the Justice Department, the FBI, with the Mueller investigation. We want to make sure that that takes its course, that the law of the land on health care, environmental protection and other issues is followed, is enforced,” Malinowski said.

Rep. Donald Payne warned to expect a House controlled by Democrats to push back.

“We’re not going to overreach, but we’re going to do our job — a job that the Republican Party hasn’t done in checking the executive branch,” Payne said.

“It’ll be up to whoever is the speaker of the House to make sure they can cobble together a compromise that will bring all of these different people to the table. So I think New Jersey’s a perfect microcosm of the kinds of things that are going to happen among Democrats,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Sherrill, Malinowski and Van Drew may all be Democrats, but they represent different constituencies and they’ll be focusing on different goals as they head to the next Congress.