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Eleven-Term GOP Incumbent Takes on ‘Outsider’ in 11th District

Frelinghuysen and Van Glahn squared off in 2014 primary, with the ‘old hand’ winning handily

Rodney Frelinghuysen
Harding Township, 70, 11-term incumbent
van glahn
Rick Van Glahn
Denville, 55, home improvement contractor

The Candidates

If he should win another term this November, Rodney Frelinghuysen would top the 22 years that his father, Peter Frelinghausen Jr., held the same office. He is descended from one of the oldest families in New Jersey and an heir to the Proctor and Gamble fortune. Frelinghuysen served previous stints in the state Assembly and as a Morris County freeholder. In Congress, he serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and chairs its defense appropriations subcommittee. Frelinghuysen is active on veterans issues and has championed foreign trade deals. He has endorsed Donald Trump despite being "very unenthusiastic" about the prospect.

Van Glahn lost to Frelinghuysen by a 2-1 margin in the 2014 primary. But it was a low turnout and not "the year of the outsider," as pundits and the challenger proclaim 2016. Van Glahn bills himself as "the only true conservative" in the race and his campaign draws from Trump's success. Van Glahn promises to "build the wall" along the Mexican border as the presidential candidate proposes. According to Van Glahn, the U.S. should "close our country's borders by any and all means," and deny citizenship to anyone who entered illegally.


Frelinghuysen accuses President Barack Obama of "runaway spending" and says "higher taxes, larger debt, more regulation and the threat of increased government mandates hamper new job creation." Frelinghuysen supports a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, last achieved under President Bill Clinton.

Despite an increase in federal revenues, the country still faces a $650 billion annual deficit, says Van Glahn, who also makes a balanced budget amendment a key part of his campaign. Yet Frelinghuysen has regularly voted to approve spending bills and increase the national debt ceiling, Van Glahn says.


Van Glahn calls the federal Common Core standards "the latest assault on our children's education," which he believes should be handled at the local level. He favors school-voucher programs, and wants the federal government to get out of the college loan business.

Frelinghuysen says the country "must update our educational standards and improve student performance." He wants more coordination among federal, state, and local officials "to ensure quality standards are met in every New Jersey school" and "give our children a competitive edge for the future."

Health insurance

Like many Republicans, Frelinghuysen calls for the repeal of "Obamacare," the federal version of a GOP alternative to national health insurance. He supports an incremental approach to prevent insurers from citing "preexisting conditions" to avoid paying, and making coverage portable between jobs and available across state lines.

Van Glahn believes "all provisions" of Obamacare should be repealed, but also would allow portable coverage. Like Frelinghuysen, he favors "tort reform" to limit lawsuits against insurers or medical enterprises. He opposes mandated coverage that buyers "do not need or want," a cost issue also sometimes cited by abortion opponents.

Abortion and gun control

A Roman Catholic deacon, Van Glahn highlights his expansive pro-life stance. He opposes abortion "even under adverse circumstances" such as rape and incest. Van Glahn also opposes the death penalty and euthanasia. He opposes gun control, saying Second Amendment rights "are given to us by God."

Frelinghuysen faces the moderate's dilemma on abortion. Formerly known for his pro-choice stance, he has shifted in recent years. Last year, he voted to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood after previously opposing that step. He had similarly shifted to oppose gun-control measures.

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