Home>Highlight>Ten Republican legislators back DeCroce amid party division

Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Ten Republican legislators back DeCroce amid party division

GOP lines split in 26th, 39th districts

By Nikita Biryukov, April 01 2021 5:32 pm

Republican legislators are picking sides in the 26th legislative district’s primary.

Three GOP Senators and seven Assembly members endorsed Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany-Troy Hills) in a three-candidate race where each of the district’s three county Republican organizations have backed a different candidate.

“I am so thankful that these colleagues and friends have stepped-up to endorse me in this primary. I am working every day to revitalize and reopen our economy that has been crushed by unscientific, over-the-top lockdowns of Phil Murphy, and fighting against his relentless tax-increases and out-of-control spending and debt increases,” DeCroce said. “With the support of great leaders like this we will be victorious in June and continue the fight in Trenton.”

State Sens. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa), Steve Oroho (R-Franklin) and Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) backed DeCroce, as did Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), Assemblywomen Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) and Aura Dunn (R-Mendham) and Assemblymen Parker Space (R-Wantage), Hal Wirths (R-Wantage), Chris DePhillips (R-Wyckoff) and Kevin Rooney (R-Wyckoff).

The arc of DeCroce’s re-election race has put the assemblywoman in something of an awkward position. Republicans in Morris County awarded an organizational line for the first time this year, but they passed over the incumbent to back Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) and former Pompton Lakes councilman Christian Barranco.

Passaic Republicans also dropped an incumbent, awarding DeCroce and Barranco the line. Republicans in Essex backed only DeCroce.

Morris County accounts for roughly 78% of the 26th district’s Republican primary votes, while the Passaic and Essex portions of the district make up about 12% and 10%, respectively.

State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) has the line in all three counties, but his name was conspicuously absent from the list of endorsements DeCroce released Thursday.

Party support is similarly confusing in the 39th legislative district.

Incumbent Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) is expected to run on Bergen County Republicans’ organizational line with Schepisi and Assemblywoman-elect DeAnne DeFuccio (R-Upper Saddle River), but in Passaic County, Auth and Saddle River Councilman John Azzariti have the line.

Bergen accounts for about 85% of the district’s Republican primary votes, with the remaining 15% coming from Passaic.

Azzariti was initially Schepisi’s pick to replace her in the Assembly after she was appointed to fill late State Sen. Gerald Cardinale’s (R-Demarest) seat in the upper chamber. Cardinale died in February after spending nearly 40 years in the legislature. He was 86.

The Saddle River councilman and former Saddle River GOP Municipal Chairman Jon Kurpis told the New Jersey Globe he intends to team up with Azzariti.

Schepisi, like Pennacchio, has the line in both of the district’s counties.

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