The Iliad and the Oddity: The Morris County Epic of Tom Mastrangelo

EAST HANOVER – Tom Mastrangelo seems to be back on the team.

The longtime Morris County Commissioner spent the last two primary election cycles battling his board colleagues and the county’s Republican leaders.

But at a Thursday night reception for this year’s three commissioner candidates, Mastrangelo was introduced and happily waved to the crowd.

Comments like “unity is great,” “isn’t love wonderful” and a “kumbaya”

moment were thrown around.

Broadly speaking, there is unity among Morris Republicans this year The last two springs have seen acrimonious primary battles for county commissioner, state legislative seats and a CD-11 House nomination.

Mastrangelo was involved in two of them.  A 2022 county commissioner fight that prompted litigation (it was settled out of court) and his challenge last year to state Sen. Joseph Pennacchio in LD-26. He won the commission fight, thereby keeping his seat on the county board, but lost the Senate challenge.

All this worked to isolate Mastrangelo on the seven-member board.

That was then. Now everything seems wonderful – at least for now, “We’re all in on the campaign,” said Commissioner John Krickus, who is running for reelection with Stephen Shaw and Deborah Smith. They have no primary opposition.

He meant all commissioners are on the same team. And all seven were on hand for a fundraiser at a reception hall in the easternmost part of Morris County.

The incumbents do have a lot to talk about.The county has an upscale lifestyle, a great park system, a low county tax rate (relatively

speaking) and for the 49th year in a row, a triple A bond rating.

Nonetheless, there have been recent political changes.

Democrats have not only narrowed the county registration gap with Republicans – it’s now about 18,000 – they hold the congressional district covering most of Morris and in recent years, have taken control of such heretofore GOP towns as the Chathams, Morris Township and Mountain Lakes.

Winning a county commission seat, however, still seems like a very tall order for the Dems..

But as politicians have said for 200-plus years in this country, the Republican incumbents are taking “nothing for granted.”

This is 2024, but 2025 will be upon us very quickly.

Jon Bramnick, who has announced his candidacy for governor next year, attended the event.

As did Bill Spadea, who is expected to run.

Official or not, Spadea seems to be acting like a candidate. He said he’s going to three or four events a night.

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One response to “The Iliad and the Oddity: The Morris County Epic of Tom Mastrangelo”

  1. This opinion piece sadly confirms what I’ve been saying for a while.

    The Republican party is dead in NJ.
    Republican infighting, litigation among themselves and weakness compared to democrat unity will make this a blue state forever. Unfortunately many voters are fooled by the democrat liberalism.

    Republicans will have their fundraisers. They will talk tough, but it is all talk. Same old candidates, same old talk. Just pathetic.

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