The race between Rep. Mikie Sherrill and GOP challenger Rosemary Becchi is considered a bellwether race for the country, contesting two women with strong resumes to serve in office in a district that sent a Democrat to Washington in 2018 for the first time in over 30 years.
Sherrill entered office as part of a mid-term Blue Wave that won back the House of Representatives for the Democrats. A former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor, she ran as someone who would be bipartisan, pledging to work with members from both sides of the aisle to support North Jersey families.
“During my first term in Congress, 75% of the bills I introduced have been with a Republican,” noted Sherrill. “Four of those bipartisan bills were signed into law. I have led bipartisan legislation like the Great American Outdoors Act to protect New Jersey’s parks and open spaces and a repeal of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap.”
Sherrill is a member of the bipartisan For Country Caucus, a group of veterans from both parties who work together on legislation related to national security and supporting veterans. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, she formed the Regional Recovery Task Force to bring Republicans and Democrats in the Northeast together to work on coronavirus response legislation.
The Montclair resident sees the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic as an issue that will be at the top of her agenda over the next two years.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has tested North Jersey. This national crisis requires bold leadership focused on helping New Jerseyans,” said Sherrill. “We need to get back to a place where Congress works together to move our country forward regardless of what side of the aisle they occupy. I have worked hard to find partners in Congress that share that common mission.”
Among her priorities related to the coronavirus includes extending such programs unemployment insurance, the Paycheck Protection Program, and Economic Injury Disaster Loan; funding for schools and child care providers; and getting the SMART Act that provides direct financial support to state and local governments passed.
Additionally, Sherrill wants the U.S. to improve its preparedness by fixing the National Strategic Stockpile and making sure The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health are fully funded and properly staffed.
“(We need to) have a plan in place for early coordination, contact tracing, and production and distribution of PPE here in the United States,” said the congresswoman.
Before the pandemic, Sherrill was a leading North Jersey lawmaker in making sure the region obtained federal investment for transportation infrastructure.
“I worked hard to help push forward on getting shovels in the ground for the Portal Bridge project,” Sherrill said. “I worked with the congressional delegation this year and after years of stalling from the administration, the Federal Railroad Administration allocated $91 million in federal funding to the Portal North Bridge and Northeast Corridor. This is in no small part due to the persistence of the delegation, and we will continue to work together on the larger Gateway project.”
Sherrill would make increasing access to healthcare and lowering the cost of prescription drugs a priority in the next Congress.
“Too many people across the country and in North Jersey don’t have access to quality healthcare and can’t afford the high cost of prescription drugs,” noted the congresswoman. “For years, I’ve been concerned about communities without access to preventative care and we are seeing the result of this neglect in disparate outcomes related to coronavirus.”
Sherrill said the in her first term she worked to find ways to make life-saving drugs easier for families to afford, including supporting legislation that passed in the House to enable more affordable generic prescription drugs to come to market sooner and worked to get more money to our federally funded healthcare centers to address the healthcare needs of disadvantaged communities.
Healthcare has been a centerpiece of Rosemary Becchi’s campaign in looking to defeat Sherrill. It is an issue that is personal to Becchi, whose daughter was born with a rare health condition and has a nephew who has Autism and is non-verbal.
“Our life experiences have given me valuable insight into the challenges families of children with disabilities face every day,” said Becchi. “I have worked with families of children with disabilities as well as leaders from this community to create a Bill of Rights for Individuals with Disabilities to help advocate for this underrepresented population.”
Becchi is no stranger to public service. The Short Hills resident, a tax policy lawyer, began her career at the IRS as an attorney and advisor before moving on to the majority staff of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee as tax counsel. It was during her time on the Finance Committee that she co-authored the 529 college savings plans that have helped millions of families save for their children’s education.
“As a candidate for Congress, I bring first-hand experience in both public policy and the law,” said Becchi. “I have spent my career working on the front lines of policy and regulatory matters, developing collaborative relationships with key leaders in both chambers of Congress, the Treasury Department, the Securities Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve Board and other federal and state agencies as well as industry and trade associations.
Becchi says her top priority if elected would be to get people back to work and getting business back on track in New Jersey. Founder of Jersey First, a non-profit advocating for lower taxes and pro-business policies, she has worked with local business owners to draft an economic plan for re-opening safely and quickly.
“Throughout the pandemic, I prioritized working with New Jersey small businesses, helping them navigate the loan and aid application processes and helping businesses survive during the lockdown,” she said. “I am offering a plan that would jumpstart the economy, provide the tools for small businesses to grow and succeed, create more good paying jobs so families can have peace of mind and save for their future.”
Becchi has made Sherrill’s record on law enforcement issues a major theme in her bid to win the 11th Congressional District, painting a picture of Sherrill as being a Washington politician more concerned with playing partisan political games than solving problems.
“Mikie Sherrill voted to allow criminals to sue police officers for doing their job. I will protect our families by supporting law enforcement and opposing radical proposals to defund the police,” stated Becchi. “That’s why the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association pulled their endorsement of Mikie Sherrill and gave it to me this year.”
“As a result, people are nervous about their safety and security, they have lost their jobs, small businesses are struggling to survive, and our most vulnerable are being overlooked,” said the GOP Challenger. “I will put people over politics, work against the dysfunction in Washington and focus on what matters most to New Jersey families.”
In making the case to be the choice in the 11th district, Becchi promises “In Congress, I will continue to put people over politics, as I have my entire career.”
The GOP challenger believes voters should pay attention to the current officeholder’s actions, not her words.
“(Sherrill) says she is a moderate, but in Washington she sides with Nancy Pelosi’s extreme liberal agenda 99% of the time,” Becchi argued. “She blocked a COVID relief bill last that gave money to schools, replenished small business loans, and gave assistance to hospitals and first responders.”
“Mikie Sherrill is not the person voters sent to Congress and she can’t be trusted to protect New Jersey families.”
For Sherrill, she views the race as choosing between two visions for America.
“One that works together and helps New Jersey to get SALT cap repealed, get the Gateway Tunnel Project fully funded, and protect our healthcare during the pandemic,” said Sherrill. “And one premised on dividing us as Americans. My opponent has spent her career as a corporate tax lobbyist fighting for her clients and lobbied for the 2017 tax bill that capped the SALT deduction, hurting New Jersey families.”
The congresswoman said she is guided by the oath to protect and defend the Constitution that she took when she entered the U.S. Naval Academy, putting the interests of the U.S. and its people ahead of her own.
“That idea of service was what originally motivated me to run for Congress, and has served as my guide in Washington,” said Sherrill. “I fight for North Jersey and I always put the residents of this community first.”