The Implications of Selen Versus Casha


One of the complaints about party conventions is that “insiders” win and “outsiders” don’t have much of a chance.

That criticism surfaced last year during the debate preceding the move by Morris County Republicans to eschew tradition and adopt a “county line.”

Friday night was the first time the Morris GOP convened to endorse congressional candidates.

Let’s ignore for a moment the  “to be continued” part of all this.

That would be the controversy about voting machines and a convention evening that ended with no congressional candidates endorsed.

For the time being, let’s look at the two candidates who finished one-two in a CD-11 six-man field – Tayfun Selen and Larry Casha.


You can say the establishment held.

Selen is a county commissioner; Casha is a state committeeman and a party activist for 40 years. They are the insiders and it’s probably no real surprise they topped the field and will “run-off” against eachother for the CD-11 endorsement.

Toby Anderson, who liked calling himself an “outsider,” came close – falling only a few votes shy of Casha. But, if you excuse the pun, he was on the outside looking in.

Paul DeGroot, who made a strong case why he’d be the best candidate in the general, finished fourth. The other two candidates in the race, Larry Friscia and Robert Kovic, were far behind. The point is that human nature and personal relationships being what they are, known candidates are going to have a better chance of getting support from party regulars.

Which brings us to a larger point. Are the known candidates truly the best candidates?

Morris Republicans adopted the county line partly because Democrats were winning elections – like Mikie Sherrill in CD-11 – and party leaders reasoned Republicans had to run the “best” candidates possible. The assumption was that committee members were the best people – rather than ordinary primary voters – to make that decision.

Talk about chutzpah.

Whether that’s the case remains to be seen.

A more immediate question is who will Morris Republicans end up endorsing – Selen or Casha?

A word first about the confusion Friday night.

Laura Ali, the party chair, said in a post-convention message that the county Board Of Elections supplied the convention with 11 of its “new” voting machines. These, presumably, were machines the county bought last year for early voting. She would have preferred older machines.

As Ali explained, “While the new machines are loaded with the newest technology and high-tech features like confirmation of your ballot submissions, there is a learning curve and we did not have the normaleducation training that would occur at a voting precinct on election day.” The result was that it took people a long time to vote and soon it was midnight and run-offs in both CD-11 and CD-7 still had nottaken place. So, everyone went home.

It’s unclear at this writing when and how the run-offs will take place.

Maybe, it’s time for a voice-vote? You know, the municipal chair grabs the mic and says the “great town of (whatever) casts its votes for ???

Make it like a national convention.

As for the contest between Casha and Selen, there is interesting stuff happening already.

Assemblymen Christian Barranco and Jay Webber have endorsed Casha as a “principled conservative with an established record of taking on Democrats.”

This is not surprising. At least for Webber.

He already is on record opposing Selen’s congressional bid because of unhappiness with a consultant that he (Selen) previously used.

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