“Frankly, 20 years ago, [Sherrill] would have been a Kean Republican,” referring to Tom Kean, the former New Jersey governor. “She was not an extremist for left-wing causes or right-wing causes. … Put cable news aside. The vast majority of us live in the middle. And that’s where her voice comes from.”
…When I asked Pelosi about Sherrill, the speaker responded with a gracious if flowery statement that amounted to no hard feelings: “This election proved that nothing is more wholesome to our democracy than the increased participation and leadership of women. As a Navy veteran, former Assistant U.S. Attorney and a mother, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill reflects the beauty, diversity and dynamism of her district and our country.”
New Jersey’s 11th is a mostly staid tangle of subdivisions, interstates and office parks, so Pelosi’s reference to the “dynamism” of Sherrill’s district is a nod not to some edgy vibe but rather its electoral volatility. Everywhere, and every cycle, is different, with myriad factors tipping the scales, of course, but one axiom is that a member of Congress is especially vulnerable in his or her first reelection campaign, before a combination of familiarity, incumbency and inertia set in.
… A month-plus into the 116th Congress, though, the task for Sherrill—and the several dozen other Democratic members like her—inevitably gets harder from here. It’s one thing to tout a résumé—it’s another to defend a record. Votes are choices, and choices have consequences, and she will have to toggle between serving the interests of those to her left who fueled her bid and those to her right who are equally if not even more responsible for her win. How will she vote on issues like defense spending and the use of force? Security on the Mexican border? What about “Medicare for All”? The prospect of impeachment? AOC’s Green New Deal?
…She was asked about the “rift” in the party.
“It’s by no means clear that a rift won’t be coming,” Sherrill said. “I think the fear is what we saw in the Republican Party—people on the Tea Party movement breaking with the party, creating a rift and having some 30-odd members of the Tea Party pretty much control the entire House of Representatives.”
Floating in the air, at least to me, was AOC. Sherrill, it turned out, was thinking it too, so she went there—carefully.
“What I have seen in the party is a group of people who come from very different districts,” she said. “So, you know, there are districts—like Queens, for example, is very different from Morristown.”
Knowing snickers rippled through the crowd.
“There are people who have different ideas, different agendas,” Sherrill said. “But what can happen with that is people kind of breaking paradigms and raising ideas that maybe we just hadn’t thought about …”