Home>Campaigns>Pennacchio, Bergen hit opponents for shoddy attendance records

State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Pennacchio, Bergen hit opponents for shoddy attendance records

Mastrangelo, DeCroce allegedly missed lots of meetings, votes

By Joey Fox, April 27 2023 1:34 pm

As they fight for renomination against a slate of off-the-line challengers in the 26th legislative district, State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) and Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville) both slammed their opponents today for supposedly having poor attendance records in their elected roles.

When the Morris County Board of Commissioners held a meeting last night, County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo (R-Montville) – Pennacchio’s Senate opponent – seemingly did not attend. Instead, Pennacchio claimed, Mastrangelo went to a “political pizza party” in East Hanover.

“Tom Mastrangelo is once again failing the people who elected him,” Pennacchio said in a statement. “How can Tom expect to represent the people of the 26th district in Trenton when he can’t even make it to work in his own backyard?”

According to Pennacchio, Mastrangelo has been absent from or late to 44% of county commissioner meetings since 2021.

Bergen, meanwhile, said that former Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) was averse to showing up and casting tough votes during her time in the legislature. DeCroce, who lost renomination in 2021 after a decade in the Assembly, is on a slate with Mastrangelo and former Parsippany Councilman Robert Peluso.

Bergen said that, of the 4,817 votes that took place during DeCroce’s tenure, she abstained or did not vote on 1,059, or 22%.

“It doesn’t surprise me. I saw it with my own eyes,” Bergen said. “She was the least present and most liberal Republican in the Assembly. People are just now finding out who the real Betty Lou is, which was something we complained about the entire time she was our colleague.”

(Bergen appears to have put his mouth where his money is on this particular line of attack; a review of his voting records from the still-in-progress 2022-2023 legislative session found a total of three missed votes out of 523.)

Although Pennacchio, Bergen, and Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) have the Morris Republican line, the threat from Mastrangelo and his team is a real one. Both Mastrangelo and DeCroce have experience running off-the-line – Mastrangelo successfully – and with the help of county commissioner candidate Paul DeGroot, their slate has the top ballot position.

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