Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R)
New Jersey 11th District
Morris County in New Jersey, west of the Watchung Mountains, was one of the first parts of the United States west of the seaboard to be settled. It has long been a place of comparative wealth, the home of skilled craftsmen during the Revolutionary War and plenty of water mills and iron forges by the 19th century. But only in the late 20th century did it come into its own, as one of the most affluent parts of the United States. And it is not just a collection of country estates, but a well-rounded community with all the appurtenances of urbanity except high crime and poverty rates. The very rich have lived here for some time, connected to Manhattan by commuter rail lines. But starting in the 1970s, new residents rushed out the newly completed interstates. Prompted by court-required zoning changes, old farms and woods have been cleared to make way for new subdivisions. This is not just a bedroom community. New Jersey’s economic energy, entrepreneurial creativity, and research expertise is found in new office complexes and corporate headquarters. Large forested areas of state parkland remain, including the Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area. The preservation of the state’s Highlands region, a 1,000-square-mile forest- and lake-filled stretch from Ringwood southwest to Warren County, has been a priority.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 11th Congressional District of New Jersey includes all of Morris County plus small slices of Sussex, Passaic, Essex, and Somerset counties. It ranks second in the nation in median household income. It is family territory, with relatively few singles, not a strongly cultural-conservative area, but not aggressively liberal either. It is predominantly white. There is a small community of Hispanics, many of whom arrived as day laborers and some of whom have settled comfortably. One of its biggest immigrant populations is of Indians, whose household incomes are double the national average. Politically, it is the most Republican district in New Jersey, and one of the most Republican in the Northeast. President George W. Bush won 58% of the district’s vote in 2004, and Republican presidential nominee John McCain won 54% of the vote in 2008.
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R)
Elected: 1994, 8th term.
Born: April 29, 1946, New York City .
Education: Hobart Col., B.A. 1969.
Family: Married (Virginia); 2 children.
Military career: Army, 1969–71 (Vietnam).
Elected office: Morris Cnty. Bd. of Freeholders, 1974–83; NJ Assembly, 1983–94.
Professional Career: Aide, Morris Cnty. Bd. of Freeholders, 1972–74.
The congressman from the 11th District is Rodney Frelinghuysen (FREE-ling-high-zen), a Republican first elected in 1994. He is the scion of one of New Jersey’s most durable political families. The Frelinghuysens emigrated from Germany near the Dutch border in 1720 and settled in what is now the 11th District. Four Frelinghuysens served as senators from New Jersey, starting in 1793 and as recently as 1923. Theodore Frelinghuysen was the candidate for vice president in 1844 (spawning the memorable chant, ‘‘Hurrah! Hurrah! The country’s risin,’ for Henry Clay and Frelinghuysen’’). Frederick Frelinghuysen was President Chester Arthur’s secretary of state. Peter Frelinghuysen, Rodney’s father, was elected to the House in 1952 and served until his retirement in 1974. History tends to repeat itself, and Frelinghuysens have been involved in every presidential impeachment. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s great-great-grandfather Frederick voted to convict Andrew Johnson in 1868, and his father, Peter, after the revelations of July 1974, would have voted to impeach Richard Nixon if the president had not resigned. The current-generation Frelinghuysen voted to impeach Bill Clinton in December 1998.
|Rodney Frelinghuysen (R)||189,696||(62%)||($1,206,615)|
|Tom Wyka (D)||113,510||(37%)||($93,651)|
|Rodney Frelinghuysen (R)||24,304||(87%)|
|Kate Erber (R)||3,731||(13%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (62%), 2004 (68%), 2002 (72%), 2000 (68%), 1998 (68%), 1996 (66%), 1994 (71%)
As a child, Rodney Frelinghuysen lived in the large brick house on Georgetown’s N Street now owned by former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and his wife, Sally Quinn. He attended St. Albans preparatory school with the future Democratic vice president, Al Gore. After college, he served in the Army in Vietnam, where he built roads in the Mekong Delta. In 1972, he was an aide to Morris County Freeholder Dean Gallo, who was later elected to Congress from the 11th District. Frelinghuysen was a freeholder himself from 1974 to 1983, and was elected to the state Assembly in 1983. Frelinghuysen ran for Congress in 1990 in what is now the 12th District but lost the primary to Dick Zimmer. In August 1994, Gallo retired because of illness; he died two days before the election. Frelinghuysen was chosen to be the Republican nominee at a September party convention and was elected with 71% of the vote.
Frelinghuysen has taken moderate and even liberal stands on some issues, but is more conservative on defense and foreign policy. He supported President Bush on the war in Iraq, and after a visit to the country in July 2008, said he found “real progress” being made.
He showed his insider skills by winning a seat on the Appropriations Committee while still a freshman, a rarity. New Jersey had no senator on the Senate Appropriations Committee between 2000 and 2006, so Frelinghuysen in the House became the go-to guy for the entire delegation on projects benefiting New Jersey. He concentrated on big projects: construction of the Hudson-Bergen light rail, dredging of channels in the Port of New York and New Jersey, millions to slow erosion on the Jersey Shore. In 2008, he got $20 million in earmarks for the Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County. Frelinghuysen was a subcommittee chairman for a short time, on the panel overseeing appropriations for the District of Columbia. But he lost his gavel in 2005 when Republicans eliminated the subcommittee. He continued to gain seniority, and in 2009 he became the ranking Republican of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee.
In response to the stock market decline in 2008, Frelinghuysen proposed suspension of the requirement that 70-year-olds withdraw funds from their individual retirement accounts or 401(k) retirement savings plans. He initially opposed the government bailout of the financial markets but then voted in favor of it, he said, because Americans needed protection from “economic shockwaves from problems they did not create.”
Frelinghuysen was the sponsor of the “Know Your Caller” law, which bars telemarketers from interfering with Caller ID systems of customers seeking to avoid such solicitations. Another of his pet projects is environmental cleanup in his district, which he says has more Superfund sites than any other. He tours the sites annually with environmental and local officials to get updates on cleanup progress. In 2004, he won enactment of legislation to protect the New Jersey Highlands.
Frelinghuysen has not been seriously challenged for re-election. In 2006, he was among the House Republicans targeted by the liberal MoveOn.org for supporting the war in Iraq. Against first-time candidate Tom Wyka, who hammered him on Iraq, he was re-elected with his smallest margin since he took office, but a still-comfortable 62%-37%. In a 2008 rematch, Frelinghuysen won with the identical result.