Home>Highlight>DeCroce says her campaign’s knocked more than 20,000 doors

Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce with supporters at a canvass launch Saturday morning. (Photo: Courtesy of BettyLou DeCroce)

DeCroce says her campaign’s knocked more than 20,000 doors

By Nikita Biryukov, June 05 2021 8:39 pm

Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) says her campaign has knocked on more than 20,000 doors.

“That’s an awful lot of doors to hit, and we’ve heard very positive thoughts and reactions to everybody that we’ve been going to,” she said. “I haven’t hit any doors that I’ve been told no. Whether somebody’s lying to me or not, I haven’t been told no.

The assemblywoman was out on the streets in Parsippany Saturday with Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Mendham), who was among 10 Republican legislators who endorsed DeCroce’s re-election bid in early April. Earlier in the day, she’d dispatched a team of 70 canvassers that included former Burlington Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs

DeCroce faces headwinds in her bid for re-election. In a narrow March vote, Morris County Republicans awarded their first-ever organizational line to Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) and former Pompton Lakes Councilman Christian Barranco.

Though she won organizational lines in Passaic and Essex Counties — Webber and Barranco are bracketed off-the-line in both counties — the loss in Morris poses a serious issue. Roughly 78% of the district’s Republican primary voters live in Morris County.

The New Jersey Globe was unable to meet with Webber or Barranco Saturday due to scheduling conflicts related to its coverage of races in other districts.

DeCroce is bracketed with Morris County Commissioner Thomas Mastrangelo in their home county, though Mastrangelo, who is running for Assembly, is on a line with gubernatorial candidate Hirsh Singh in Passaic and Essex.

The assemblywoman was an early backer of GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Jack Ciattarelli, who has lines in all three of the 26th district’s counties, and has not tied her campaign to any of the three other candidates for the Republican nod to take on Gov. Phil Murphy.

“I figured why go with somebody that I didn’t really support just to use them to try to get the line,” she said.

State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) is running on organizational lines throughout the district, but he’s keeping the Assembly primary at arm’s length. He’s endorsed both incumbents, but his lawn signs don’t mention either of them. The senator’s name is absent from the assembly candidates’ signs as well.

DeCroce’s off-the-line bid in Morris comes with some advantages not lent to challengers elsewhere in the state. She’s represented the district since her the 2012 death of her husband, Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, who spent 23 years in the chamber, including nine as minority leader.

The late DeCroce’s name still carries weight among the district’s elderly Republicans.

Webber was the district’s top fundraiser, bringing in $169,194 to DeCroce’s $157,912 through May 7. His war chest of $121,317 was more than twice the $58,239 DeCroce reported having on hand in 29-day pre-primary reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Barranco reported raising $34,025, while Mastrangelo brought in $35,047. It’s not clear how each candidates’ fundraising has fared since May 7, though those number will come into some relief when 11-day pre-primary reports are released on Monday.

DeCroce is likely to have the most money at her back in any case.

Garden State Forward, a super PAC backed by the New Jersey Education Association, has reported spending $198,492.50 on digital ads and mailers in the district so far. The NJEA has endorsed DeCroce.

Stronger Foundations Inc., the political spending arm of Operating Engineers Local 825, has put $208,870 behind mailers and television and digital ads in the district. Those filings don’t make clear which candidates that spending supports or opposes, though the union opposed Webber’s 2018 bid for Congress and endorsed DeCroce’s re-election in 2019.

Mastrangelo, for one, has called on the Assemblywoman to tell those groups to pull out of the district

Barranco and Webber have attacked DeCroce over a yes vote on a 2020 resolution naming July 13 as “Black Lives Matter Day,” charging the vote proved she did not stand with law enforcement.

DeCroce called the vote ceremonial and said she voted yes to enable unity. The resolution passed the Assembly without any opposition. Webber abstained.

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