‘The Most Conservative Group of Legislators in the State’


There’s always another game to play. Or in the case of politics, another election to consume.

The midterm elections were hardly over when three Morris County Republicans began firing out statements about the 2023 legislative elections.

They are, for the record, state Senator Joe Pennacchio and Assemblymen Jay Webber and Brian Bergen.

Right now, Bergen is in LD-25, but under the new map, all three will be in LD-26, which beginning next session ranges from Florham Park north through such Morris County locales as Parsippany and Montville and eventually to Ringwood in Passaic County.

The territory has shifted, but this is still very Republican terrain.

Which is why the three incumbents seem so determined to “clear the field” and wrap up the party’s endorsement, which is more relevant now that the Morris GOP has a “county line.”

They seem to be taking nothing for granted. Months ago, the newly-minted team began holding get acquainted sessions around the new LD-26.

And now the rhetoric is really flowing.

A press release less than a week after the midterms spoke of an  “impressive display of strength and party unity.”

That was an announcement that Pennacchio, Bergen and Webber “have already lined up support from more than 80 percent of the Morris County Republican Committee.”

The self-congratulatory statement went on to say that, “the team, dubbed ‘the most conservative group of legislators in the state,’ has been amassing support while working statewide to help candidates win elections last Tuesday.”

An observer has to wonder just who has labeled this group “the most conservative” legislators in the state. Then again, press statements like this are really not meant to be taken seriously.

But Pennacchio wasn’t done yet.

Just this week, he sent out a release trumpeting his support from Laura Ali, the Morris County Republican chair, and Peter Murphy, her counterpart in Passaic County.

This show of apparent strength clearly is designed to dissuade others from running.

That seems unlikely.

Former Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, who lost a primary battle in 2021 to keep her seat, is definitely interested in running again.

People in the party say she is gathering support herself and that things are going well.

Getting the endorsement of county organizations is critical, but not necessarily dispositive.

Just this year in fact, Paul DeGroot (CD-11) and Tom Mastrangelo (Morris Commissioner) won their primaries despite not being endorsed by the Morris GOP.

Time moves quickly, but it’s still six months-plus before the primary and about four months or so before the filing deadline.

Assuming DeCroce runs, the next pertinent question is, will others jump in as well?

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