Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) said he doesn’t expect former Pompton Lakes councilman Chris Barranco to mount an Assembly bid in his legislative district.
“Chris is a friend. I have no reason to think that he’d get into a primary with us,” Webber told the New Jersey Globe Monday. “So, I look forward to working with him and all Morris County Republicans to keep that seat and keep moving forward.”
Barranco has told the Globe he’s “running to represent the 26th,” adding that his challenge was not aimed at Webber, whose congressional campaign he was active in that year.
But while Barranco may have ties to Webber, the same isn’t necessarily true for his Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Parsippany).
DeCroce did not share Webber’s certainty about a Barranco primary challenge.
“It’s a challenge that I have to fight for in any way I have to, and Jay has to fight for in any way he has to,” DeCroce said. “It could be any one of us that is gone. There’re two seats. If there’re three people, someone’s not going to survive, and I don’t want it to be me not surviving.”
Webber and DeCroce have served in the legislature together since the latter was appointed to the seat held by her late husband, Assemblyman Alex DeCroce.
The relationship between the two has been strained.
In February 2018, DeCroce endorsed Anthony Ghee over Webber for the Republican nomination in the 11th congressional district, though she backed Webber after his primary win.
In March of that year, she hit Webber over his vote on an equal pay bill. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, who was then a candidate, repeatedly used Webber’s vote on the bill in campaign attacks, televised and not.
Though the Morris County Republican Committee awarded both incumbents the party line last month, calling the two running mates might be something of a stretch.
DeCroce and Webber didn’t run together in 2017, and DeCroce wouldn’t say in clear terms last May whether she would run with Webber if he lost his congressional race.
“That will be up to him. That will be a discussion later,” DeCroce said at the time. “He didn’t run with me last year, so we’ll see what happens next year.”