Amid Musella Hoopla, Barranco Alert to ‘Political Problem’


PARSIPPANY – Assemblyman Christian Barranco was one of many Morris County luminaries attending a Thursday night fundraiser hosted by Councilman Justin Musella.

Like the newly-elected Musella, Barranco is just getting accustomed to the Assembly. But unlike Musella, Barranco already has a political problem on his hands.

The Democrats’ proposed legislative map for the next 10 years relocates Barranco’s hometown of Jefferson from LD-26 to LD-24, which is basically a Sussex County district. This would put Barranco in the mix with two other GOP incumbents, Hal Wirths and Parker Space.

“That was the nuclear option,” Barranco said of the Dems’ proposal.

The fallout would also engulf Jay Webber, the other assemblyman from LD-26. The Dems would move his town of Morris Plains into neighboring LD-25, where the assembly members are Aura Dunn and Brian Bergen.

Webber was at the fundraiser too, but he refrained from talking extensively about the possible change, at least publicly.

As a seasoned legislator, Webber probably figures the map will change a lot before it is adopted. And he may be right.

Musella, who was elected to the Parsippany council last fall, is seen by some in the party as a rising star.

Laura Ali, the county chair, said she didn’t even know Musella a few years ago and now he’s a guy who helped turn Morris County’s largest town from blue to red. She made similar comments about Ashley Felice, who just became the Republican mayor of Chatham Township.

Addressing the crowd, Musella said township Republicans may be on different sides at times, but they don’t fight.

He’s proof of that.

Musella ran for council on a primary ticket last year headed by Lou Valori. Musella won and Valori lost.

The man who beat him, Jamie Barberio, is now the mayor. And buttressing Musella’s point, both Barberio and Valori sat at the same table enjoying the fare and apparently, each other’s company.

Others mixing with the crowd at an Italian restaurant off Route 10 were four of the six Republicans seeking the congressional nod in CD-11 and all five individuals seeking three county commission nominations.

There was some news about that race 12 hours or so after the fundraiser on Friday morning.

Commissioners John Krickus, Stephen Shaw and Deborah Smith endorsed Sarah Neibart for commissioner, calling her “exactly the kind of leader we need with us” on the board. Neibart is a Mendham Township committee member.

Others in the race are former commissioner/freeholder Christine Myers and the team of incumbents Tom Mastrangelo and Doug Cabana and newcomer Melissa Florance Lynch.

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