Is DeCroce distancing herself from Mastrangelo in LD26?

Politics is a brutal business, Save Jerseyans. It’s been said that politicians in search of friendship are better off purchasing a dog, and LD26 is probably a prime example this cycle.

Ex-Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce is running reclaim her old legislative seat; she’s lined up with Morris Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo (who’s running for Senate) and former Parsippany Councilman Robert Peluso (her Assembly running mate) against the party-endorsed ticket of Pennacchio-Webber-Bergen. Observers believe Jay Webber – who’s represented the district for years – is way out ahead. Her best chance of making an improbable comeback would be to defeat Brian Bergen who was redistricted from LD25 into LD26.

But is Mastrangelo, the top of DeCroce’s ticket, polling poorly? On Monday, DeCroce launched a new attack against Bergen which seemed to seek distance between herself and the controversial commissioner who is running a particularly savage (and hyper-personal campaign) against the incumbent, Joe Pennacchio.

“When Senator Pennacchio needed a legislator he could trust to investigate the Covid-19 deaths in NJ nursing homes, he chose Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce,” the meme tweeted by DeCroce trumpets.

“Thanks for acknowledging the great work of Senator Pennacchio,” Bergen fired back. “He is the better candidate for Senate, kudos to you for breaking from Mastrangelo. In reference to you being part of his efforts here, my understanding is that he didn’t choose you, but got stuck with you.”

Regardless of whether DeCroce is right or wrong here, it is notable (as Bergen points out) that her comments appear to represent a break with her running mate.

Imagine, for example, if Kamala Harris had attacked Mike Pence in 2020 by bragging about a hypothetical past collaboration with Donald Trump? Weird, right?

We’ll find out two weeks from today whether the results reflect DeCroce’s possible conclusion that she can’t rely on Mastrangelo for help in her column on June 6th.

Matt Rooney
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MATT ROONEY is's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.