King Penna has a strange knack for bringing people together – but not all the time.
In the wake of Penna’s Tuesday night recorded verbal altercation with Melinda Ciattarelli, the wife of GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce sent out a statement condemning Penna, who is well known among Morris County Republicans.
But there was more.
DeCroce, who is running against three others for two GOP nominations in the June 8, LD-26 primary, challenged her opponents, Tom Mastrangelo, Christian Barranco and Jay Webber, to do the same.
And on Friday morning, one of those opponents, Mastrangelo, obliged.
“King Penna went way over the line by attacking Jack Ciattarelli’s wife and children,” he said in a statement. “There is absolutely no place for that in politics.”
The condemnation from Mastrangelo was not surprising.
There is, as they say, some history here.
More than once, Penna and Mastrangelo have been on opposite sides of what were then Morris freeholder races, some of which ended up in the courtroom. So, Mastrangelo probably didn’t need much prodding to condemn Penna.
But there’s still more.
About a week ago, Mastrangelo deplored the simmering nastiness in this campaign by invoking no less a GOP personage than Ronald Reagan. Mastrangelo implored the candidates to honor Reagan’s “11th Commandment” and stop attacking fellow Republicans.
That hasn’t happened.
Today, Mastrangelo specifically mentioned DeCroce.
He said that a PAC supporting DeCroce, Stronger Foundation, has been unfairly attacking him throughout the campaign.
At varying times, campaign pieces have called Mastrangelo a “hypocrite” and a man who likes raising taxes.
So, Mastrangelo said he is challenging DeCroce to view her campaign through the lens of Reagan’s commandment and stop those attacks.
Obviously, King Penna’s ability to bring people together has its limits.