Former Pompton Lakes councilman Christian Barranco may have trouble getting on the ballot if he challenges incumbents Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) and Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) for State Assembly in the June Republican primary.
Barranco resigned his borough council last July to prepare for his move to Jefferson in Morris County.
Records show that four months later, Barranco cast his general election ballot in Pompton Lakes.
Barranco told the New Jersey Globe that he is currently living at his mother’s home in Wayne while his new house in Jefferson undergoes renovations.
“I’m there every day,” he said.
His delay in establishing actual residency in Jefferson places his potential candidacy in the 26th district at risk, although Barranco does not view it as an issue.
“I have sought legal advice on this topic and have been told that it’s close enough that we can have a judge permit me to run for the seat,” Barranco said.
The New Jersey Constitution requires that legislators must be a resident of the district for one year before the general election.
In 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals denied a bid by former Olympian Carl Lewis to challenge State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) in the 8th district because he did not meet the constitutional residency requirement. At the time, Addiego was a Republican and Lewis was seeking the Democratic nomination.
Three years later, the New Jersey Supreme Court invalidated the election of Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera (D-Gloucester Township) in the 4th district because she missed the residency requirement by 45 days.
With the seat vacant, South Jersey Democrats held a special election convention and elected Mosquera. She ran again in a 2012 special election and essentially won her own unexpired term.
Still, New Jersey judges have a reputation for flexibility when interpreting state election laws.
Barranco has not officially entered the race, stating that “we have until April 1.”
“No decision has been made,” Barranco said. “I’m leaning towards running.”
He disputed that his challenge was aimed at Webber.
“I’ve always been friendly with Jay,” Barranco told the Globe. “I’m running to represent the 26th.
Barranco said he was active in Webber’s campaign for Congress last year.
“I reached out to ask him if he was running for re-election, but he never responded,” Barranco said.
The New Jersey Globe first reported on Thursday that Barranco was considering an Assembly bid but did not speak with the prospective candidate until after the report was published online.
In a text message to Webber obtained by the Globe from a Webber supporter, Barranco told his potential opponent that he was not the source of the story – which is accurate.
“I had nothing to do with the NJ Globe piece. It was produced without any contact with me whatsoever. I think that’s a falsity,” Barranco wrote to Webber.
Barranco confirmed the validity of the text message.