Democrats have picked the leader of one of the state’s most influential grassroots progressive organizations to challenge Jay Webber for State Assembly in the 26th district.
Christine Clarke, the environmental director for Action Together New Jersey and the Jefferson Democratic municipal chair, will team up with Verona Democratic municipal chair Laura Berman Fortang to take on incumbents Webber (R-Morris Plains) and Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Parsippany).
Fortgang and Clarke have the backing of Morris County Democratic chairman Chip Robinson and Essex County Democratic chairman LeRoy Jones.
The 26th has 14,866 more Republicans than Democrats, although Webber lost the 11th district towns in the 26th legislative district by more than 6,000 votes in his 2018 congressional race against Democrat Mikie Sherrill.
Democrats have not won the 26th since 1973, when John Sinsimer (D-Pompton Lakes) won in the Watergate landslide. Sinsimer was unseated in 1975 by Dean Gallo, then a Morris County freeholder from Parsippany.
Clarke was involved in the grassroots New Jersey 11th for Change movement that helped Sherrill flip the district. She succeeded longtime municipal chairman Horace Chamberlain when he stepped down last year.
Fortgang ran for Assembly in 2017 but lost the Democratic primary by a 2-1 margin running off the organization line. She was elected municipal chair in 2018 after Teena Schwartz stepped down.
This story was updated at 6:12 PM to include Jones endorsement.