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Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

DeCroce launches bid to reclaim Assembly seat

Ex-lawmaker held seat for a decade before losing primary in the last election

By David Wildstein, January 19 2023 11:16 am

BettyLou DeCroce  (R-Parsippany) today formally launched her bid to reclaim the 26th district State Assembly seat she held for ten years before losing a Republican primary in 2021, setting up a fight with her former running mate, Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains), and another incumbent, Brian Bergen (R-Denville).

DeCroce told the New Jersey Globe that she intends to compete for the organization line at the upcoming Morris County GOP convention.

Now the Dover business administrator, DeCroce had previously announced her candidacy at a private fundraiser last June.

“We desperately need to elect effective conservatives to the state legislature,” DeCroce said.  “Speeches on the floor of the statehouse are not changing anything, but an informed and energized electorate will.”

DeCroce was upset at the Morris County Republican convention two years ago – the first under a newly-established organization line – and lost to Christian Barranco (R-Jefferson) by nine county committee votes.

She ran on the organization lines in Essex and Passaic counties, which she won by 321 and 118 votes, respectively, in the Republican primary.  But Barranco, running on the line with Webber, beat DeCroce in Morris by 990 votes to pull off a 551-vote victory in a district that had sent a DeCroce to the Assembly – her late husband Alex was serving as minority leader at the time of his death in 2012 – for 32 years.

Legislative redistricting moved Barranco to the next-door 25th district, with Bergen moving to the 26th.  Bergen is running on a slate with Webber and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville); the three have secured a huge number of endorsements from local elected officials.

It’s not clear that DeCroce can qualify for the convention ballot.  She needs to get 20% of the county committee to sign her petition and Webber and Pennacchio are already have close to 90% signing their petitions.

The two county chairs in the district, Laura Marie Ali in Morris and Peter Murphy in Passaic, have endorsed Pennacchio, Webber and Bergen.

“The state continues to slide into deeper and deeper into trouble under Democratic leadership,” said DeCroce.  “Working people need representatives in Trenton who will put in the extra work it takes to make positive changes in their lives.  I am committed to making those changes.”

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