By Meghan ByersMORRIS PLAINS ‑‑ New Jersey Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) has announced his intention to secure the Republican nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th District, following the retirement announcement of Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ11).Webber, a resident of Randolph, has served in the NJ State Legislature since 2008 and is a former New Jersey Republican Party Chair. The assemblyman is a member of the Appropriations, Financial Institutions and Insurance, and Homeland Security and State Preparedness committees. His district represents residents of Morris, Passaic and Essex counties. The 11th District includes parts of Essex, Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties, and Frelinghuysen has served as its representative for nearly 24 years. In Sussex County, the 11th Congressional District covers Byram, Sparta, Stanhope, Hopatcong and Ogdensburg.The New Jersey Republican Party “will be digging in for a tough fight to maintain this seat,” according to NJGOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt.“There are districts like the 11th that might decide the balance of power in the House,” Webber wrote on Twitter following the announcement of his candidacy. “When you have that much at stake in your back yard, I needed to step up and hold that seat for the country.”Frelinghuysen had faced growing criticism from activist groups since the 2016 election, and Webber seemed to acknowledge the increase in activism across the country in his press release.“We can give in to the angry intimidation of the far left who seek to ‘resist’ every idea that comes from someone who doesn’t share their outlier extremism,” Webber said. “Or we can stand up for the beliefs and principles that have served our country so well for so long and continue the progress we’ve made in the last year toward reviving our economy, creating more and better paying jobs, strengthening the rule of law, and restoring America’s security and standing in the world. I choose the latter.”“In the coming months, I will offer a candidacy, first to Republicans in the primary, and then to the general electorate, that will provide solutions to our country’s most troubling issues,” Webber went on. “Those solutions will be guided by my recognition that so many of our citizens sit at their kitchen tables each day not caring about ‘blue’ or ‘red.’ They simply want a limited and responsible government that respects their rights to live freely, and doesn’t bother them without good reason.”Webber is an attorney and graduate of Harvard Law School, and currently is the only declared Republican candidate running for Frelinghuysen’s newly open seat. Montclair resident Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor, is favored to win the Democratic primary, having gained the endorsement of all four Democratic party chairs in the counties comprising the 11th district. However, she faces competition from three other candidates also in the running for their party’s nomination: family advocate Tamara Harris, attorney Mitchell Cobert, and political science professor Mark Washburne. "I am a former Navy helicopter pilot, federal prosecutor, and mother of four," Sherrill said on her candidate's website. "I have spent my adult life serving our country and I can’t sit by and watch Donald Trump and Rodney Frelinghuysen threaten all the progress we’ve made.""I don't think it changes (my campaign) substantively," Sherrill said of Frelinghuysen's announcement, according to published reports "I think just about every major piece of legislation coming out of Washington is harmful to New Jersey and to the 11th District in particular. I'm going to continue to build on the momentum we've been working on since May."So far the NJ 11th District congressional race has been rated as a “toss up” by the Cook Political Report, a non-partisan newsletter that provides analysis of political trends in upcoming elections.