The former state assemblywoman announced Thursday that she’s in the race for the Republican nomination for the LD-26 seat she held for nine years.
This was not unexpected. In fact, many observers assumed DeCroce would run again soon after she lost a primary two years ago.
The district has changed a bit, but not overwhelmingly.
Even after redistricting, it remains a Morris County-centered district that includes Parsippany, which is both DeCroce’s hometown and the largest municipality in the district.
Her announcement sets up a contest between DeCroce and two incumbent Republicans, Jay Webber and Brian Bergen, who now represents LD-25. The new map puts Bergen, a Denville resident, into 26.
Two years ago, DeCroce lost the “county line” in Morris to Webber and Christian Barranco, who has moved to 25, essentially trading places with Bergen.
Undaunted by losing the line, DeCroce ran in the 2021 GOP primary, losing to Barranco for the second spot on the ticket by about 500 votes. Webber was the top vote getter by far.
The primary was a nasty one with Webber attacking DeCroce for her vote in 2020 in support of a bill designating July 13 as “Black Lives Matters Day” in New Jersey.
Nobody in the Assembly voted “no” on what was a largely ceremonial bill in opposition to systematic racism. Webber abstained.
Nonetheless, Webber used that vote to portray DeCroce as some sort of Black radical who was anti-police.
Time marches on and now it’s 2023.
And as fate has it, Bergen, who is now running with Webber, also voted “yes” on that same bill. Go figure.
In a release, DeCroce says she wants to bring “effective conservatism to the state legislature” by bringing conversation about state government to the district.
She pledged to host regular town hall meetings, which is not something state legislators normally do.
“Speeches on the floor of the Statehouse are not changing anything,” she said. “But an informed and energized electorate will.”
She also pledged to support parents’ rights, fight for a school aid formula more equitable to the suburbs and oppose what she termed the Democrats “soft on crime” philosophy.
These are standard Republican positions, so this intra-party battle – like it did in 2021 – is bound to turn on issues of personality and political alliances.
Like votes on Black Lives Matter? Well, maybe not this time.