Last year, the all-Republican Morris County Commissioners with four “yes” votes asked the state to investigate one of their own – Tom Mastrangelo – for alleged ethical violations.
One of those “yes” votes came from Commissioner Tayfun Selen.
Both Mastrangelo and Selen were on Tuesday’s primary ballot.
Mastrangelo won a nomination to continue serving as commissioner. Selen, surprisingly to many, lost the party’s nod to run for Congress in the 11th District.
A lot of things are connected in politics and the feeling here is that Selen’s support of the Mastrangelo
investigation wound up hurting his congressional campaign. In fact, it may have been a fatal blow.
Soon after last year’s action, Mastrangelo called the investigation of him a “witchhunt.” Selen, of course, was part of that.
Fast forward to the primary.
Mastrangelo said in a phone conversation this morning that his campaign team knocked on about 16,000 doors.
It’s not hard to surmise that in visiting with those “16,000” or so voters, Team Mastrangelo urged support for the commissioner and also no support for Selen. Now we have the numbers.
Mastrangelo, who was not endorsed by the Morris County Republican Committee, nevertheless won by about 1,000 votes over Sarah Neibart, his main competitor.
Selen, who was endorsed by Morris Republicans, lost to Paul DeGroot by about 1,300 votes district wide.
Mastrangelo has long been at odds with party leaders; at one point a few years ago, he wanted them all to resign.
You’ve got to figure that part of his campaign was asking voters to back him for commissioner, and to oppose Selen for the congressional nomination, thereby opposing the county committee on two different fronts.
If that was the strategy, it worked. Mastrangelo won and Selen’s winning margin in Morris was held down to about 1,000. DeGroot more than made that up with a whopping win in Passaic County.
Despite his win, Mastrangelo is still upset with a Neibart campaign ad that alleged he has “multiple” criminal arrests. So much so that he sought – and failed – to get a court injunction to stop it from being used. Whether any legal action will continue is unknown. The commissioner notes that he has not had multiple arrests.
Mastrangelo, of course, had fired a shot, accusing Neibart in a mailer of “indoctrinating our kids” and supporting a “woke agenda” after she attended a LGBT event with a drag queen last year in Mendham Township when she was mayor. Mastrangelo defends the mailer, saying it is Neibart’s record and shows that she is a “social liberal.”
Neibart and her supporters were incensed, calling the mailer a gross distortion. Hard feelings remain.
In a statement today Neibart said the following:
“It’s extremely disappointing to see an elected official lie to the very people he claims to serve.
“I am a proud conservative who believes deeply that parents, not government or bureaucrats, know what’s best for their children.
“His vicious attacks, lies, and distortions are proof positive on why Tom Mastrangelo is unfit for office and exactly why I started this campaign in the first place — to bring a fresh, new conservative perspective to the Morris County Board of Commissioners.
As we await the final votes to come in and be counted, I am grateful for the support of the Morris County GOP, my running mates and the thousands of Republicans who stood up and rejected the desperate and despicable campaign of Tom Mastrangelo.”
Another unhappy camper in the wake of the primary is Toby Anderson who finished third in the race for the CD-11 nod.
In a message today, Anderson complained about the county committtee endorsing primary candidates.
“The party line simply enforces the rule of a small and unrepresentative elite over the party,” it said. “This will kill all enthusiasm among Republican and Republican leaning voters. As we have seen, it also does not promote unity.”
Unity, nonetheless, is on the table.
With the primary history, Morris Republicans have scheduled a “unity celebration” for June 20.
And by the way, the state investigation into Mastrangelo that the commissioners urged six months ago remains ongoing.