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Morris County Commissioner candidate and former congressional nominee Paul DeGroot. (Photo: Joey Fox for the New Jersey Globe).

DeGroot confirms he’s running for Morris County Commissioner

Former congressional candidate will challenge incumbent Tayfun Selen

By Joey Fox, February 09 2023 4:41 pm

Paul DeGroot, a former Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor and the GOP nominee last year against Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), confirmed today that he will run for Morris County Commissioner this year against Republican incumbent Tayfun Selen.

“Commissioner Selen has little interest in working for the people of Morris County,” DeGroot said. “He is more interested in propelling himself up the political ladder than fighting for conservative values. Mr. Selen has amassed a totally undistinguished record.”

The campaign will be a rematch of the 2022 11th congressional district primary, which DeGroot won in an upset over Selen despite not having organizational support in most of the district. While DeGroot didn’t actually win the Morris County portion of the district – Selen carried it 40%-36% while running on the Morris Republican line – he said in his announcement that the overall result shows Selen’s weakness as an incumbent.

“I have already shown that Commissioner Selen can be beat and that he lacks commitment to core Republican values to represent our Republican Party,” he said.

DeGroot also attacked Selen from the right, saying that Morris County needed a stronger conservative voice on issues like immigration, crime, and taxes.

“We don’t need a weak candidate who is more concerned with taking photos with Democrats than he is with standing up for conservative Republican values,” he said. “We need a county commissioner candidate who is unafraid to take on the Democratic Party, which often bashes Republican positions on important issues such as illegal immigration.”

DeGroot is the second challenger to announce a campaign against Selen, who was first elected in 2020; Republican county committeeman Anthony Somma entered the race at the beginning of the year. Selen already has backing from a huge number of Morris Republicans, including five of his fellow county commissioners, so he’s likely the favorite for the county line.

The commissioner campaign will be one of several interesting Republican primaries in Morris County this year. Just today, Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo – the only commissioner who didn’t endorse Selen for re-election – launched his campaign against State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville), while former Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) has been aiming to reclaim her old legislative seat for months.

It’s possible that two or more of the insurgent candidates could align on a joint slate, though DeGroot’s campaign manager told the New Jersey Globe that he does not intend to run with any other candidate.

Whoever wins the nomination for county commissioner is likely to prevail in November, since Democrats haven’t won a county-level office in Morris County in 50 years.

But if electability becomes a concern for Republican voters, Selen has the edge. He won his seat 52%-48% in 2020 even as Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the county since 1964; DeGroot, meanwhile, lost the 11th district portion of the county by six points last year on his way to a 19-point drubbing by Sherrill.

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