Tom Mastrangelo is running for the state Assembly in LD-26, thereby making an interesting race even more exciting.
Rumors about Mastrangelo, now a Morris County commissioner (freeholder), seeking higher office have been around for some time, so his candidacy is not all that unexpected.
But what it does do is scramble things even more.
The incumbents are BettyLou DeCroce and Jay Webber.
Newcomer Christian Barranco entered the race a few months ago and succeeded in getting the “party line” in Morris County.
LD-26 is mostly a Morris district, covering the eastern part of the county. But there are four towns in Essex and one, West Milford, in Passaic.
Mastrangelo’s candidacy means there will be four candidates for two party nominations in the June 8 Republican primary.
DeCroce said last night that representatives of Mastrangelo contacted her over the weekend suggesting that the two of them run together. She said there were even suggestions that if DeCroce cooperated, Mastrangelo may not seek an Assembly seat, but would instead run against Joe Pennacchio, the district’s senator.
DeCroce said she wanted nothing to do with such scheming.
“I decided to take the high road. I’m not going to throw my colleagues under the bus,” she said, adding that she’s ready to run on her own.
It may be alone, but it won’t be without some party support, the loss of the county line notwithstanding.
A few hours before Mastrangelo’s intentions became known, the DeCroce campaign sent out a release saying she had the endorsement of four county commissioners – Stephen Shaw, Doug Cabana, Tayfun Selen and Kathy DeFillippo.
Mastrangelo was first elected to the then-freeholder board in 2010. His tenure at times has been colorful, most recently when he threatened litigation against his opponents after winning the 2019 primary. A bit later, he publicly called for the leadership of the Morris County Republican Committee to resign. The leadership did not comply.