Cautious Alex

Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce held a fundraiser for his own re-election campaign on Tuesday night. Worried that he could get lost in the already heated contest for an open Assembly seat in the 26th disrict, the 70-year-old Republican leader is not taking the June GOP primary for granted. In 2006, DeCroce sent out four separate direct mail pieces to Republican primary voters in his own district. DeCroce’s problem is that dollars spent on his own campaign in GOP-safe Morris County (where there is no organization line in primaries) comes out of the money he can export to other districts where Republicans are seeking to unseat Democratic incumbents. That makes it harder for DeCroce to recruit strong challenger candidates, and tougher for them to win without the Assembly Republican Leader’s full warchest. Assembly Republican Victory 2007, DeCroce’s leadership PAC, has $422,663cash-on-hand (Assembly Democrats have almost four times as much). In 2003, Senate Co-President John Bennett and Republican Majority Leader Anthony Bucco spent a combined $1.2 million defending their seats in safe Republican districts after personal problems made each of them vulnerable. Bennett had to fend off a primary challenge before losing to Democrat Ellen Karcher; had he not run for re-election, his seat would have likely remained in GOP hands — and some insiders argue strongly that the million dollars could have flipped 32 votes from Fred Madden to George Geist, giving the GOP twenty Senate seats and shared control of the upper house.

Cautious Alex