U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11) has been in Congress for 12 terms, and over them his voting record has moved from somewhat progressive in the beginning (in areas such as reproductive freedom, for example) steadily to the right, to the point that his most recent voting record is 100 percent along GOP lines.
And this is the week set aside for members of Congress to go home and connect with their constituents.
But the new chair of the House Appropriations Committee has been dodging requests by NJ 11th for Change, a nonpartisan grassroots organization with more than 6,500 Facebook members and growing, so the group is holding meetings with or without him in the four counties included in the 11th district.
The first was held Sunday at the VFW in Sparta, where two seatings were “sold out”(tickets were free but necessary) and many more listened to sessions via live feed. Frelinghuysen was invited but did not attend, which was expected, as the reclusive legislator insists on meeting constituents at fundraising events and similarly controlled environments. Political signs and statements were prohibited at the meeting.
Receiving almost no notice in the local press, the sessions featured an analysis of Frelinghuysen’s voting record and discussions by experts on issues that the crowd wants to discuss with their elected representative, such as health care and the environment. Many in attendance and who have commented on line claim that in addition to not meeting with them, Frelinghuysen’s staff, when contacted, claims not to know where he stands on the issues.
Although Sussex County has two registered Republicans for every Democrat, Frelinghuysen ignores the concerns of progressives at his political peril; he’s by now means guaranteed a continued free ride:
“My wife attended the Sparta town hall, while I live streamed at home. We both are life long Republicans …” wrote Bill Bond from Hopatcong, one of five Sussex County towns in the district, in comments to WYNC, which did cover the event.
Another Sussex County resident commented “It's a shame that we have a representative who does not represent his constituents.”
Who, another attendee noted, “are not going away.”