The Lonegan-Space Circus and Other GOP Primary Nuggets

If you can’t find some humor and irony in politics, what’s the point of it all?

The primary is still three-plus months away and nominating conventions – for those counties that have them – remain on the horizon. But that hardly means the political landscape is quiet.

One of the more entertaining races this year is the evolving Republican primary in LD-24, a strongly-conservative district covering Sussex County and parts of Morris and Warren.

And guess what, it’s time to say hello to “left wing” Steve Lonegan, a Senate candidate in a district where incumbent Steve Oroho is not seeking reelection.

We are being facetious, of course, but Lonegan is going after opponent Parker Space for his (Space’s) seeming affinity for the Confederacy.

We digress.

It is puzzling at best, and alarming at worst, why those living in New Jersey would find any attachment at all to a slave-holding region that revolted against the United States.

Still, displaying the “Stars and Bars”  in various ways – bumper stickers, flags, tattoos – has emerged as an odd sense of pride for some conservatives.

As has been previously reported, Space has raised eyebrows for posing years ago in front of the Confederate battle flag and for getting a Confederate flag tattoo.

This may annoy Democrats, but in such a heavily Republican region it has not hindered Space’s political career at all.

But now Lonegan, who has championed conservative causes all his political life, is raising the issue.

“Getting a Confederate flag tattoo after a national tragedy doesn’t make you a conservative, it makes you a fool,” Lonegan says.

He also noted that “Opposing racism isn’t ‘far left,’ It is good old-fashioned American common sense.”

Whether the Confederacy – of all things – really becomes an issue in northwest Jersey is open to debate.

Space, for his part, is running with Assembly candidates Dawn Fantasia and Mike Inganamort. The district’s two Assembly seats are open too,

The trio has been racking up endorsements throughout the district from Republican officials. The latest are from almost 30 mayors, or former mayors, in the district.

A release ignores their primary opponents and instead concentrates on Phil Murphy and Joe Biden – safe ground indeed for all Republicans.

“Families, seniors, and small businesses in our district have been hammered by Governor Murphy’s spending binge, compounded even more by Joe Biden’s record inflation,” Space says in the release, adding that he and his team will be a voice for property taxpayers and an opponent of “woke big city politicians.”

***

People like describing primaries as family fights.

Over in nearby LD-26, it’s a fight over family ties indeed.

Former Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, who lost her seat in 2021, is trying to get it back. Standing in the way are incumbents Brian Bergen and Jay Webber.

DeCroce is the widow of former Assemblyman Alex DeCroce and that is relevant to the story at hand.

BettyLou DeCroce says in a release that she wants Webber to “immediately stop using my late husband’s name to gain political points … Jay’s actions are unseemly, desperate and hurtful.”  She says Webber has been doing this at GOP gatherings and the upshot is, “Alex and Jay were never great friends.”

To which, Webber said the following:

“Alex DeCroce was a friend, a colleague, and a client, and I have and will continue to recall my service with him fondly.  Together, Alex and I took on Jim McGreevey, Jon Corzine, and the rest of the Democrats, pushed to cut taxes, and stood up for families across the state.  Be assured that, when appropriate, I will continue to speak proudly of the work Alex DeCroce and I did to make New Jersey a freer, more prosperous state.”

BettyLou DeCroce is not convinced, contending that her husband did not share many of Webber’s views and that he perceived him to be “overly ambitious and untrustworthy.”

She said on Thursday that Webber is being “disrespectful.”

All this is happening and the primary is not until June.

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