The Ongoing Republican Intraparty Slog in Sherrill’s CD-11

Casha and company

MONTVILLE – Tom Mazzaccaro has been around township Republican politics for more than 40 years, so it wasn’t surprising he got right to the point.

After listening to the six Republicans who want a crack at Mikie Sherrill at a Thursday candidates’ night talk about rising inflation, a crisis at the border and Russian adventurism,  it was time for questions.

All six are loyal Republicans, Mazzaccaro said, stating the obvious.

But can any of them actually win?

That is the bottom line.

“We have a real, formidable candidate who has a big warchest,” Mazzaccaro said. Sherrill’s campaign fund totals about $5 million, according to the latest FEC filings.

Money is not everything, but it’s definitely something. Whether the eventual nominee gets financial help from national Republicans probably depends on whether the race in CD-11 is considered winnable or not. That’s uncertain.

Republicans are still enthused after a good 2021 election and are convinced momentum is on their side. President Joe Biden’s less than stellar poll numbers buttress that point.

Yet, things can change in the next nine months and the new map makes CD-11 more Democratic than it has been.

Each candidate endeavored to answer the question.

First up was Toby Anderson, who spoke virtually after recently testing positive for COVID.

He said he would establish that Sherrill is part of the Biden-Nancy Pelosi “administration,” which doesn’t sit well with voters. He also took heart from recent polling that shows Biden losing ground with Hispanics, normally a dependable Democratic voting bloc. That is good news – politically speaking – for Republicans, but CD-11, as districts go in New Jersey, is not overly Hispanic.

Larry Casha said – a bit boldly – that it doesn’t take five million bucks to get your message across. And reaching back to the era of 1960 sitcoms, Casha brought up June Cleaver, who was known on the tube for doing housework in high heels and pearls. The presumed point here is that Sherrill is more glitz than substance.

Paul DeGroot said yes, the GOP base is energized. But guess what?

That’s not good enough.

That in itself, “is not going to get us across the finish line.” As he has done previously, DeGroot said Republicans have to do a better job appealing to women and women with children.

Earlier in the evening, DeGroot also mentioned a tale of personal derring-do – his apprehension of a mugger attacking a cab driver in Manhattan in 2011. Later, he provided an audio of the driver thanking him in a phone message. That could make a good campaign ad.

Candidate Larry Friscia,  who seems to pride himself on studying policy details and fully understanding issues, said the 90-seconds allotted to answer the question wasn’t long enough. But he did ask those interested to contact him afterwards and confidently proclaimed, “I am the one who can take (Sherrill) down.”

Robert Kovic said Republicans need to run a genuine conservative, adding that “more and more people are turning to the Republican party.” He mocked Sherrill as a “paper tiger,” and criticized her recent trip – along with other House members – to Ukraine as a “photo op.”

In fairness, Sherrill is a member of the Armed Services Committee and a one-time Russian foreign policy officer when serving in the Navy.

The last candidate to speak was Tayfun Selen, who said an “out of the box” candidate is needed. That’s him.

“I have a story that resonates,” said Selen, who immigrated from Turkey, got a job pumping gas and now sits on the Morris County Board of Commissioners.

The primary is in June, but the time is shorter than you think.

DeGroot won the line in Passaic County and the key Morris County endorsement will come in early March.

And there may be more candidates.  Assemblywoman Aura Dunn and Morris County Surrogate Heather Darling are considering jumping in. Each could have an impact. As of now, there are no women in the Republican field.

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2 responses to “The Ongoing Republican Intraparty Slog in Sherrill’s CD-11”

  1. After the recent NJ Democrat gerrymandering of congressional districts, it will be much more difficult for a Republican to win.

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