Former Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) hit back today at Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville)’s attacks on her attendance record, highlighting her history of accomplishments and saying that Bergen gets little done in the legislature.
Bergen, who will face DeCroce in next month’s 26th district Republican primary, slammed the former assemblywoman last week for missing or abstaining on more than a thousand votes during her ten years in the legislature. DeCroce has an alternate spin on that statistic: she did cast thousands of votes – 5,450, according to her campaign – and was the sponsor of dozens of successful bills.
“Brian Bergen is not working very hard in Trenton,” DeCroce’s campaign said in a statement. “BettyLou DeCroce has a documented record of hard work, including having 55 bills signed into law that she was the primary sponsor of.”
DeCroce also highlighted her service on numerous Assembly committees, contrasting that with Bergen’s paucity of committee assignments. Bergen is indeed a member of only one committee, though it’s an important one: the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which gets assigned many of the legislature’s more controversial bills.
What Bergen lacks in committee assignments, he makes up for in enthusiasm, frequently speaking on the Assembly floor and protesting liberal legislation. But DeCroce said today that such speechifying doesn’t accomplish anything for his constituents.
“He can scream and yell his head off during the Assembly voting sessions about legislation he had nothing to do with,” DeCroce said. “But his theatrics are meaningless, as are his votes.”
In a comeback of his own, however, Bergen said that he’s fighting on behalf of conservatives while DeCroce worked with Democrats on their liberal policies.
“BettyLou is bragging about being a friend to Democrats who used her to make it seem like they were working across the aisle,” Bergen said. “My record shows I fight back against Democrats’ bad legislation. Republicans know who the real conservative is.”
DeCroce is aiming for a comeback this year after losing renomination in 2021 to now-Assemblyman Christian Barranco (R-Jefferson). She’s part of an off-the-line slate that also includes Morris County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo (R-Montville), who’s running for the State Senate, and former Parsippany Councilman Robert Peluso.
So far, DeCroce’s campaign has focused its fire almost exclusively on Bergen and not on his running mate, Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains). That’s a sign that DeCroce sees Bergen, who was redistricted into the 26th district from the neighboring 25th, as more vulnerable – and that Webber is a tougher target in the district he’s represented for more than 15 years.
This story was updated at 3:42 p.m. with comment from Bergen.