PARSIPPANY – Unexpected things happen in politics.
“I have a running-mate I didn’t expect,” is how Jay Webber put it to a group of township Republicans Thursday night.
That would be Christian Barranco.
Incumbent Assemblyman Webber and newcomer Barranco have teamed up to seek the party’s two nominations in LD-26 covering eastern Morris and parts of Essex and Passaic counties.
Also in the race is the other incumbent in the district, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, and Morris County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo.
Things didn’t start out this way.
Way back in March, Webber and DeCroce filed nominating petitions together, as incumbents are wont to do. They were to be “bracketed” on the ballot.
But then, Morris County Republicans endorsed Webber and Barranco, bypassing DeCroce. She was endorsed, however, by party leaders in Essex and Passaic. And that prompted Webber and Barranco to team up.
And on this night, Webber seemed happy to embrace his new partner, saying they would work in Trenton as a team.
“We haven’t had that for awhile,” he said.
Really? So he and fellow Republican DeCroce are not a team?
Asked about that afterwards, Webber repeated the line about looking forward to working with Barranco.
In a more general comment, Webber said the four-person campaign already has gotten “interesting and colorful.”
Mail pieces are circulating that attack Barranco for not being a true conservative and Mastrangelo for being a “hypocrite.”
This is the norm for Morris Republicans, although some hoped instituting a “county line” would stop divisive primaries.
Well, maybe next year.