Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) lost the Morris County Republican organization line on Friday evening, putting her bid for re-election to a sixth term in jeopardy.
Christian Barranco, a former Pompton Lakes councilman and a member of the politically influential International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 102, defeated DeCroce by 9 votes, 87-78, at the first-ever Morris GOP convention.
Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) was the top vote-getter with 117 votes. He is seeking his eighth term in the legislature.
Morris Republicans also endorsed Jack Ciattarelli for governor in tonight’s vote to award the first-ever organization line. He defeated Rev. Phil Rizzo, 252-74, 77%-23%.
Tonight’s vote makes Webber a clear favorite to win re-election.
Morris County makes up about 78% of the total Republican primary vote in the 26th district, with 12% coming from Passaic and 10% from Essex.
Essex and Passaic have not yet awarded their organization lines.
In 2017, before Morris Republicans established an organization line, Webber and DeCroce faced primary challenges from two Morris County freeholders, Hank Lyon and John Cesaro. DeCroce defeated Lyon by 1,889 votes; Webber finished 1,335 votes ahead of DeCroce, with Cesaro trailing Lyon by 494.
DeCroce is the second GOP incumbent to lose the backing of her home county in the primary election. Monmouth County Republican dumped Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) from the organization line.
Commissioners Deborah Smith, Stephen Shaw and John Krickus ran unopposed for re-election at the convention, but tonight’s upset defeat of DeCroce could force a primary if DeCroce needs to establish her own line.
DeCroce might also need to align herself with one of Ciattarelli’s opponents in order to get a better ballot position.
A former deputy commissioner of community affair and ex-Roxbury Township Clerk, DeCroce won an Assembly seat in 2012 following the death of her husband, Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce.
State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville), Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) and Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) were also unopposed, as was Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), who is seeking an open State Senate seat in the 21st district.