GOP gunning for Vichy Democrat in New Jersey

Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen is one of many contenders who will seek the Republican nomination in the 11th Congressional District, which is currently represented by conservative Blue Dog Democrat Mikie Sherrill.

In conjunction with his announcement, Selen describes himself as an immigrant from Turkey who came to this country to build a better life but like most Republicans, he would deny others the same opportunities he had.

Besides serving as a Morris County commissioner since January of 2020, Selen, 51, is the senior vice president for Lincoln Educational Services, a group of private vocational training schools.

As Mayor of Chatham Township, he claims that he cut municipal property taxes, earned an AAA credit rating, and reduced local spending by $200,000.

As Morris County Commissioner, he toed the party line.

Selun failed to get 20 percent of the vote in his 2015 challenge to incumbent Democratic Assemblyman John McKeon and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey.

Selen immigrated to the U.S. in 1996 from Istanbul, Turkey. His first job in New Jersey was working as a gas station attendant.

“At that time, I had more dreams in my head than money in my pockets, and this country has made all my dreams come true. Now I am running for Congress because I want to give back to my community by helping the people of New Jersey and my country who gave me so much along the way,” said Selen.

Prior to his role at Lincoln, he served as director of Project Management for CB Richard Ellis, the largest real estate development company in the nation.

In that role, he oversaw real estate functions for Hertz Corporation and Bank of America.

He also was vice president of New Store Development for CB Richard Ellis and served as assistant managing director at Montclair State University.

He earned his U.S. citizenship in 2008 and currently lives in Chatham Township with his wife and daughter.

In 2019, Selen became the first Turkish-American Mayor elected to public office in the U.S. He has earned Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Istanbul Technical University and an MBA from Montclair State University.

Sherrill is married to Jason Hedberg, a classmate and graduate of the United States Naval Academy who served as a U.S. Navy intelligence officer. The couple has lived in Montclair with their four children since 2010.

Hedberg is a stock trader at UBS Securities.

Sherrill was elected in 2018 with support from the political action committee organization, the pro-choice Democratic PAC EMILY’s List, the editorial board of The New York Times, and the New Jersey chapter of Clean Water Action.

Sherrill won re-election in 2020, by defeating Republican Rosemary Becchi with 53 percent of the vote, the same margin by which President Joe Biden carried the district.

Sherrill has an estimated net worth of about $1.5 million.

Sherrill graduated from South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia. In 1994, she graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis with a B.S. In 2003, Sherrill received a M.Sc. in economic history from the London School of Economics. In 2004, she received a certificate in Arabic language from The American University in Cairo. In 2007, Sherrill earned a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

In 2019, Sherrill initially opposed exploring the impeachment of President Trump, but changed her mind in September after a whistle-blower alleged that he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden.

Sherrill was reportedly instrumental in motivating House speaker Nancy Pelosi to proceed with the impeachment inquiry and said her “grave concerns” about Trump’s behavior were “rooted in self-sacrifice and principle.”

An op-ed she co-wrote with six other freshman Democrats with national security backgrounds—Gil Cisneros, Jason Crow, Chrissy Houlahan, Elaine Luria, Elissa Slotkin and Abigail Spanberger—said, “everything we do harks back to our oaths to defend the country” and “these new allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect.”

Following her election, Sherrill joined the neoliberal New Democrat Coalition and the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of conservatives derided by some as ‘Vichy Democrats.’

Republican challengers Hillery Brotschol, Robert Kovic, GOP State Committeeman Larry Casha, Pompton Lakes realtor Patrick Quinn, and Tom Toomey are also hoping to challenge Sherrill in the 11th district next year.

Brotschol, a screenwriter and film producer from Morris County, is a graduate of Montclair State University. 

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