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Morris County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo's updated Facebook banner. (Photo: Tom Mastrangelo via Facebook).

Mastrangelo updates social media in advance of Senate bid

Morris county commissioner declines to comment on campaign

By Joey Fox, February 06 2023 1:09 pm

Morris County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo edited his Facebook banner photo this morning to a declaration of “Tom Mastrangelo for Senate,” likely confirming he’ll challenge State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) this year in the 26th legislative district Republican primary.

Reached by phone, Mastrangelo said that he was too busy and refused to comment. No other changes or posts have been made on Mastrangelo’s Facebook page other than the new profile and banner photo.

Mastrangelo has been mulling a challenge to Pennacchio for some time; a poll was in the field last year testing such a matchup, though Mastrangelo denied the poll came from him.

Assuming he does run, he’ll likely recruit a full slate of challengers for Assembly and county commissioner as well. Two other candidates who are running or considering running for those offices are former Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce and former congressional candidate Paul DeGroot, though any potential affiliation among the various challengers is only speculative for now.

Pennacchio and his running mates, Assemblymen Brian Bergen (R-Denville) and Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains), have all declared their intent to run for re-election, and they’ve garnered endorsements from a huge array of local Republicans. Included among their backers are 80% of Republican county committee members from the Morris County portion of the district, meaning they’re the clear favorites for the county organizational line.

But Mastrangelo is no stranger to running and winning off the line. Last year, the commissioner was denied county party support for a fifth term, but he forged ahead anyways and beat party endorsee Sarah Neibart in the Republican primary.

At the end of 2022, Pennacchio reported $511,506 in cash-on-hand, the seventh-largest warchest in the Senate and the largest of any Republican legislator. Mastrangelo, on the other hand, reported $35,504 in his county commissioner campaign account as of his most recent campaign filing.

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