Correction: The article has been amended to indicate that Republican candidate Tayfun Selen has indeed been campaigning in Maplewood.
Residents of Maplewood and South Orange inundated with lawn signs for the nine candidates running for three seats on the Board of Education — and still chattering about the contentious spring Democratic primary for Maplewood Township Committee — may have missed the fact that there’s also a State Assembly race this November 3.
On election day, voters in the 27th District can send Democratic incumbents John McKeon of West Orange and Mila Jasey of South Orange back to Trenton, or they can vote for Republican challengers Tayfun Selen of Chatham and Wonkyu “Q” Rim of Whippany, or Libertarians Damien Caillault of Livingston and Jeff Hetrick of Chatham.
In an interview this summer, Maplewood Democratic TC candidate Greg Lembrich cautioned that local Democrats shouldn’t take McKeon and Jasey’s re-election for granted. Lembrich noted that the 27th, although still containing more registered Democrats (36 percent registered Democrats to 21 percent Republicans), has recently been redistricted and now includes more traditionally Republican territory in its western, Morris County territory.
According to NJ Spotlight, the 27th District now includes 14 communities in Essex and Morris counties: Caldwell, Chatham Township, East Hanover, Essex Fells, Florham Park, Hanover, Harding, Livingston, Madison, Maplewood, Millburn, Roseland, South Orange and West Orange.
And Republicans aren’t ceding this election to the incumbents. A reader recently sent Village Green a flyer for Wonkyu “Q” Kim touting his NRA endorsement, as well as a flyer from the Koch brothers-funded group Americans for Prosperity pinning high property taxes to Jasey and McKeon. (See below.) In a June article about Republican candidate Tayfun Selen, NJ.com’s The Auditor column reported, “The 27th District is considered a likely win for Democrats, but Republicans still have a better chance to pick up a seat there than most districts around the state.”
In a message posted on Village Green’s Facebook page, Selen noted, “I’ve had the pleasure of knocking on doors in Maplewood in support of my candidacy. The people of Maplewood have been so fantastic, and I really appreciate the conversations I have had. My best wishes to everyone running on Nov, 3.”
Democrats Jasey and McKeon often make appearances locally, and have historically enjoyed broad support in Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange. The demographics may explain why, in part: According to the NJ Department of Elections, 84.4% of votes cast in Maplewood for the 2012 presidential election went to Barack Obama, and 83.1% of votes cast in South Orange went to Obama. The numbers are less lopsided in Millburn, but Democrats still have a decided edge: In 2012, Obama received 55.3% of Millburn votes to Mitt Romney’s 44%, in registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 32% to 22.8%.