BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) will challenge two incumbents in the 2023 primary in a bid to win back the 26th district State Assembly seat she held for ten years.
DeCroce announced her comeback bid to attendees at a fundraiser on Wednesday evening that she would challenge Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) and Brian Bergen (R-Denville), the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.
Assemblyman Christian Barranco (R-Jefferson) ousted DeCroce last year. He won the Morris GOP organization line after toppling her at the party convention by nine votes, and then defeated her in the Republican primary by 551 votes.
In that race, DeCroce ran on the organization lines in Essex and Passaic counties, which she won by 321 and 118 votes, respectively. But Barranco, running on the line with Webber, beat DeCroce in Morris by 990 votes.
Legislative redistricting shifted Barranco to the 25th district and moved Bergen, a two-term lawmaker and former Denville councilman, into the 26th with Webber and State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville). Essex is no longer in the 26th.
In 2021, Garden State Forward, a super PAC backed by the New Jersey Education Association, has reported spending about $200,000 to get DeCroce re-elected. Stronger Foundations Inc., the political spending arm of Operating Engineers Local 825, put $208,870 behind mailers and television and digital ads in support of DeCroce.
The three incumbents will run as a slate in 2023.
“We are united in moving our state and the Republican Party forward, and, like our constituents, have no interest in looking backwards. We are running as a team, and together we will win,” Pennacchio, Webber and Bergen said in a statement. “The future of the Party is bright as the GOP plans to win seats across the State and the country. Our team is determined to be a part of that bright future as we run our campaign, help with others, and serve with our fellow Republicans on behalf of the people. No primary or general election challenge is going to interfere with that mission.”
DeCroce was first elected to the Assembly in 2012 following the unexpected death of her husband, Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce.