Only Brian Bergen will participate in a debate for the Republican nomination for State Assembly in the 26th district on Wednesday, May 31 at 9 PM after his opponent, BettyLou DeCroce, refused to participate.
Bergen, a two-term assemblyman, will instead field questions alone from the two moderators, David Wildstein and Matt Rooney. A seat will remain open and available for DeCroce, should she change her mind.
The New Jersey Globe and Save Jersey extended an invitation to both candidates on Monday evening, deciding that day to add the competitive primary to the debate calendar after signs that the race between Bergen and DeCroce, a former assemblywoman, was tightening. Two other candidates, incumbent Jay Webber and former Parsippany Councilman Rob Peluso, were not included as the contest appears to be between Bergen and DeCroce.
DeCroce’s spokesman, Thom Ammirato, suggested that “the objectivity of the two moderators of the debate is questionable” and incorrectly accused them of conspiring with Bergen and creating a forum that “has been rigged to favor” Bergen.
“The debate parameters were made without our campaign’s knowledge and with zero input from the DeCroce for Assembly team,” Ammirato stated.
The debate format is the same one the New Jersey Globe and Save Jersey used this year in the 4th district State Senate race and the 24th district Assembly race, and last year in GOP congressional primaries in the 3rd and 5th districts. This was also the debate format in the Democratic primary for State Senate in the 37th district in 2021, and for the candidates for Mercer County Executive before the 2022 Democratic county convention.
Similarly, the New Jersey Globe has maintained the same debate format since 2020 as sponsors of general election debates for U.S. Senate between Cory Booker and Rik Mehta, for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 3rd, 5th 7th and 11th districts in 2020, the special election for State Senate in the 25th district in 2020, the 2nd and 8th district State Senate races in 2021, and the 3rd, 7th and 11th congressional districts in 2022.
The New Jersey Globe and Rider University were also designated as the official debate sponsors in the race for lieutenant governor in 2021 between Diane Allen and Sheila Oliver.
The 26th district debate will be streamed live on the New Jersey Globe, Save Jersey, and on social media channels:
New Jersey Globe: https://newjerseyglobe.com/
Save Jersey: https://savejersey.com/
Facebook Live: https:/facebook.com/NewJerseyGlobe & https://facebook.com/SaveJerseyBlog
YouTube: https://youtube.com/NewJerseyGlobe & https://www.youtube.com/@SaveJerseyBlog
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheNJGlobe & https://twitter.com/SaveJersey