The Not-so-Great Debate

In the run-up to last fall’s general election, the Morris County Republican Committee told its candidates not to take part in any League of Women Voters’ debates.

Their argument was simple: the League leans to the left and cannot be trusted to treat Republican candidates fairly.

As a result, many of the usual municipal and county debates or forums sponsored by local leagues did not take place.

Now it’s the primary season and there still seems to be controversy over LWV debates.

Paul DeGroot, who is seeking the party’s nod for county commission in the upcoming primary,


says his opponent, incumbent Tayfun Selen (pictured, top), is refusing to join him in a LWV debate.

Or as DeGroot said in a release, “Tayfun was nowhere to be found.”

The release said DeGroot was – and is – ready to debate, but that Selen failed to agree before a league deadline.

Barbara Kuppersmith, who is with the LWV in the Morristown Area, essentially concurred. She said Selen did not actually decline to debate, but that he did not reply in time for the debate to be held.

She said it does take a certain amount of time to set things up.

Selen said he didn’t want to directly respond to DeGroot’s criticism.

There is history here,

Selen and DeGroot tangled last year when both sought the party’s nomination in CD-11.

Selen won the endorsement of Morris Republicans, but DeGroot won the nomination and eventually lost to Democrat Mikie Sherrill. And some may recall that both DeGroot and Sherrill took part in a LWV debate last October.

This year, Selen again has the endorsement of Morris Republicans to retain his seat on the board of commissioners.

DeGroot, however, is not without backing.

John Sette, a former party chair, has scheduled a fundraiser for Tuesday night to support the candidacy of DeGroot and three legislative candidates running “off the line.”  The featured speaker at the event is slated to be radio host Bill Spadea.

Laura Ali, the current party chair, has dismissed Sette’s event, noting that many active Republicans in the county will be at another event Tuesday night in honor of Washington Township Mayor Matt Murello.

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