Passaic County Republicans unanimously awarded their organization line in the 26th district to the incumbents seeking re-election: State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville) and Assemblymen Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) and Brian Bergen (R-Denville).
This is a blow to BettyLou DeCroce, a former assemblywoman from Parsippany seeking a return to the legislature two years after losing the Morris Republican and then the primary to Christian Barranco (R-Jefferson). Redistricting forced Bergen and Barranco to switch districts.
DeCroce alone occupied the organization line in Passaic County in 2021 and won it by a 24%-22% margin against Morris County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo, with Barranco finishing fourth with 20%. Webber, who did not get the line in Passaic in the last election, was the top vote-getter in the primary with 34%.
Mastrangelo, whose brother-in-law, Jerry Speziale, was the Passaic County sheriff, is now challenging Pennacchio in the Senate primary.
Support for Pennacchio, Webber and Bergen was not unexpected since GOP county chairman Peter Murphy personally endorsed the incumbents last November.
“Joe, Jay, and Brian share our Passaic County Republican values: they protect middle-class taxpayers, defend our cops, and stand up for our kids’ education,” Murphy said in a statement today. “They are great leaders for Passaic County – I endorse their entire team for re-election and urge my fellow Republicans in Passaic County to do the same.”
The incumbents said they were honored to win the line in Passaic after a unanimous vote by the party screening committee.
“With Chairman Murphy at the helm, we look forward to heading the PCRRO slates of State, County, and Local candidates in Bloomingdale, Pompton Lakes, Ringwood, and Wanaque,” they said.
The next stop for the 26th district race is the Morris GOP convention on March 4.