Christian Barranco says fellow Republicans ask him all the time, “Who are you going after?” Or words to that effect.
His answer is simple.
“I’m targeting the voters of the 26th District. I’m not trying to get rid of anyone.”
That sounds quite diplomatic, but it doesn’t really change the bottom line.
As a Republican candidate for the state Assembly, Barranco by definition is trying to remove one of the two incumbents, who are Jay Webber and BettyLou DeCroce.
On Thursday night, Barranco braved a snowstorm for a campaign kickoff in Florham Park.
His focus is a familiar one for Republicans – stressing private investment and business development.
“Everyone can’t work for the government,” he says, a comment that seems amusing and prescient at the same time.
Barranco, an electrician by profession, is a former Pompton Lakes councilman now living in Jefferson. In 2013, he started the New Jersey Rough Riders Society political action committee to support Republican candidates. Despite the tendency of unions to support Democrats, Barranco, a member of IBEW local 102, believes that many rank and file workers embrace Republican principles.
In contrast to some other districts around the state, the landscape in the 26th remains strongly Republican. Democrats of late have been more competitive in the neighboring 25th District than they have been in 26, which covers eastern Morris County, a small part of Essex and one very Republican town in Passaic County, West Milford.
That makes the primary super-important.
Both incumbents are well-known. Figuring out who may be most vulnerable in a primary comes down to personal likes or dislikes.
And let’s keep in mind the playing field is a new one. Now that Morris Republicans have adopted a “county line,” all candidates will have to seek support from the county committee. That will be a new experience for them.
On his web site, Barranco criticizes lawmakers who make “tired speeches in the Statehouse.”
In contrast, he says the state needs aggressive legislators “who are not afraid to get their hands dirty.”
DeCroce said she will withhold comment on Barranco’s candidacy at this time; Webber was unavailable for comment.