The Spectacle Within the Spectacle of LD-26

With algae bloom closing the lake to swimmers, local office holders and candidates are trying to portray themselves as chief protectors of Lake Hopatcong, the state’s largest freshwater lake, going forward.

Republicans keep beating each other up with mailings and text messages in LD-26 and that’s how things are going to stay.

Candidate BettyLou DeCroce has declined an offer to debate opponent Brian Bergen, calling the proposed meeting “unfair.”

The DeCroce campaign said Thursday that the “debate parameters were made without our campaign’s knowledge and with zero input from the DeCroce for Assembly team.”

It adds that DeCroce will not participate “in a so-called debate that will do nothing to enlighten voters and will only end up to be a spectacle.”

Just as an aside, political spectacles can be fun to watch.

More seriously, the debate was proposed for May 31 by Save Jersey and the NJ Globe. Both outlets have jointly sponsored other debates this primary season, including one in the equally acrimonious Republican Assembly primary in LD-24.

As proposed, the debate would have been a one-on-one matchup between DeCroce and Bergen. That would have omitted the two other candidates in the race, incumbent Jay Webber, who is running with Bergen, and Rob Peluso, who is running with DeCroce.

That seemed odd, but then again, the main contest here appears to be between DeCroce, a former Assemblywoman, and current Assemblyman Bergen, who is running in LD-26 for the first time after redistricting.

Webber is seen by most observers to have his renomination assured. That’s probably one reason why his campaign pieces have all been positive. Clearly, Webber thinks there’s no reason to attack any of his opponents.

The DeCroce-Bergen contest is another matter.

Most recently, a Bergen mailer slammed DeCroce as a “Trenton insider” who – gasp – works as town administrator in Dover, which is run by “far left Democrats.”

In fairness it must be pointed out that a previous administrator in Dover was John O. Bennett the 3rd, a former Republican state senator.

DeCroce in turn has said Bergen is not a real conservative, because he “supports a woke school curriculum that forces children to consult the liberal media.”

In fairness – once again – it must be noted the legislation in question was passed with bipartisan support.

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