The 2016 election demonstrated—in a yuge way!—that conventional wisdom about American politics, especially the “rush to the center” and the notion of independent thought within parties, no longer applies. Which is probably bad news for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (CD-11) who has so far held on to his seat for a whopping 12 terms and parlayed himself into the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful posts in the nation.
But Frelinghuysen’s party may be coming to an end.
His steady drift to the right and admission that he for years voted for what an increasingly confrontational GOP leadership wants “no matter what the issue”
angered a newly galvanized constituency that is vehemently opposed to the current regime, and gave rise to the formation of political action groups such as NJ 11th for Change, which has put the congressman in its crosshairs and made it clear that Frelinghuysen shouldn’t count on holding his seat after the midterm election. Many credit its pressure with Frelinghuysen’s last-minute switcheroo on the GOP’s “healthcare” act, which in turn is thought to have led to that’s atrocity’s demise.
Succumbing to that pressure, however, put Frelinghuysen at odds with the right wing of his own party, who up until then had been counting on him to rubber stamp the ruling chair and aren’t taking kindly to his defection. The Club for Growth, an “economic freedom” group with an anti-government and especially anti ACA agenda, has targeted Frelinghuysen with TV and digital ads, decrying him as a “professional politician” who supports “unnecessary regulations” such as the protections offered by the ACA.
Hit from both sides, Frelinghuysen appears to be getting nervous, and while in a recent fund-seeking letter to constituents he paranoically accused action groups of lying about his record, he also noted what could be music to progressive’s ears:
“The reality is that this district, NJ’s 11th, is getting more Democratic. And while the district has changed, I haven’t.”
Which about says it all.