Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen will challenge Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) in New Jersey’s 11th district next year, giving Republicans a proven vote-getter who ran five percentage points ahead of Donald Trump in 2020.
That sets up a possible GOP primary with lobbyist Rosemary Becchi, a former U.S. Senate Finance Committee tax counsel who won 47% against Sherrill in 2020 and has been setting up a rematch. Selen outpolled Becchi in the 11th district municipalities by 8,759 votes.
A former Chatham Township mayor – the first Turkish American mayor in the nation — Selen enters the race with a compelling life story.
He emigrated to the U.S. in 1996 and worked as a gas station attendant and became a U.S. citizen in 2008.
“At that time, I had more dreams in my head than money in my pockets, and this country has made all my dreams come true,” Selen said. “Now I am running for Congress because I want to give back to my community by helping the people of New Jersey and my country who gave me so much along the way.”
In January 2020, Selen won a special election convention to fill the unexpired term of Freeholder Heather Darling, who had resigned to become Morris County Surrogate.
In the general election, he defeated Democrat Cary Amaro by a 52%-48% margin to become the last person to ever win an election as Morris County Freeholder. In doing so, he won more votes than any countywide candidate in history and ran 6,312 votes and five percentage points ahead of President Donald Trump.
“America is starved for leadership and for voices in Congress that can articulate a vision for keeping the American Dream alive for future generations,” Selen said. “America is at a crossroad, and I want to help ensure that we choose the right path forward — a path that rewards hard work, a path that respects the rule of law, a path that unites us as Americans as we celebrate our differences, a path of freedom and opportunity for all.”
Selen is the vice president of administration at Lincoln Technologies, a vocational education company.
The 51-year-old Selen is the fifth Republican to enter the race against Sherrill, along with screenwriter Hillery Brotschol, Sparta attorney Robert Kovic, former Republican National Committee staffer Thomas Toomey, and Patrick Quinn, a realtor from Pompton Lakes.
Sherrill has a massive $4.12 million warchest for her 2022 re-election bid.
A former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor, Sherrill flipped a House seat held by Republicans for 34 years in 2018 after House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen abruptly announced his retirement.
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.