The bad blood between Jay Webber and Chris Christie World goes back at least to 2003, when a 30-year old Webber challenged veteran Republican Senator Bob Martin (R-26) in a Republican Primary.
Martin preceded Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) in that seat, and attorney Bill Palatucci – Christie’s politically benefactor – ran Martin’s campaign, which successfully repelled Webber, who nonetheless came to prominence in Morris politics in that loss.
Martin didn’t run again in 2007, the same year Webber out-dueled attorney Larry Casha in a lunatic primary to get to the assembly.
Aware of the tensions in their political camps and eager to install a conservative on his team after beating Steve Lonegan in the 2009 GOP Primary for Governor, Christie tapped Webber to succeed Tom Wilson as party chairman in 2009.
It worked at first but ultimately it didn’t go well.
Webber was into party building, and liked the idea of organizing the NJGOP around Ronald Reagan iconography.
Christie had his own ideas about iconography.
Webber and Palatucci butted heads during 2011 redistricting and it soon became apparent that there wasn’t sufficient alpha male oxygen in the party for both Christie and Webber. Webber left the party chair position and it’s been vacant ever since. Actually, that’s not true. The position is held by Sam Raia.
On Christie’s last piece of signature legislation, the gas tax hike for estate tax freeze-out deal to pay for the state’s depleted Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), Webber voted no. His district mate, Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce, supplied a yes vote.
Palatucci, a source told InsiderNJ, is set to be part of a fundraiser for DeCroce later this month.
Not to get crazy about this – there are, after all, two seats in the 26th – but the fundraiser is for DeCroce, not DeCroce and Webber.