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Former Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor Paul DeGroot. (Photo: Paul DeGroot).

Ex-prosecutor seeking GOP nod against Sherrill in NJ-11

Paul DeGroot spent 25 years as a homicide, narcotics and corruption prosecutor in Passaic County

By David Wildstein, September 28 2021 1:10 pm

Paul DeGroot, Passaic County assistant prosecutor, has entered the race for the Republican nomination for Conrgess in New Jersey’s 11th district in a bid to unseat two-term Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair).

“I am excited in the opportunity to bring better government to CD-11 hat is in line with the majority of residents of the districts,” he said.

DeGroot, 55, begins his House bid with a possible base of political support at a Morris County GOP convention that will award the organization line next year: he’s the president of the Montville Republican Club.

He is the latest in what is quickly becoming a crowded field in a politically competitive district that could potentially change after the new congressional map is drawn early next year.

So far, Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen, screenwriter Hillery Brotschol, Sparta attorney Robert Kovic, former Republican National Committee staffer Thomas Toomey, and Patrick Quinn, a realtor from Pompton Lakes are already in the race.

Two others are also mulling a bid to unseat Sherrill: Rosemary Becchi, a former U.S. Senate Finance Committee tax counsel who won 47% against Sherrill in 2020; and Larry Casha, a Republican state committeeman and former Kinnelon council president.

DeGroot is seeking to contrast his 25 years as a prosecutor with Sherrill’s experience as an assistant U.S. Attorney.

“Unlike Mikie Sherrill, who did not have substantive experience in the courtroom, prosecuting cases, I conducted and led heartbreaking investigations during the death of children, pursued justice against corrupt government officials, and was able to take drugs and drug dealers off the streets while helping the obtain treatment,” DeGroot said.  “Mike Sherrill never tried a case or received a 2 AM phone call about a homicide investigation or met a grieving victim’s family while preparing for trial.”

DeGroot grew up in a union household in Clifton, where his father, Walter DeGroot, was the fire chief.

As a prosecutor, DeGroot “rose through the ranks” to become chief of the Homicide, Narcotics and Government Corruption units.

While attending the University of Maryland, he served as an intern on the office of Rep. Jim Courter (R-Allamuchy).  Later, he was a paid staffer for the re-election of Rep. Bill Martini (R-Clifton) in 1996.

DeGroot also has experience in the private sector.

“With the work ethic instilled by my parents, I helped pay my tuition by creating a successful small business which delivered and installed athletic equipment,” he said.  “Two major sporting goods chains were my clients, servicing 10 stores in the tri-state region.”

The 11th district has trended Democratic since it was last drawn a decade ago with 24,176 more Republicans than Democrats.

The current 11th has 9,278 more Democrats than Republicans and Biden carried the district by a 53%-46% margin.  Trump won the 11th by a narrow one-point margin in 2016, when there were 13,813 more Republicans than Democrats; Frelinghuysen won his twelfth term by a 58%-39% margin that year.

Sherrill flipped the 11th in 2018 after 34 years of GOP representation.

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