John Bencivengo

No tree left behind

No tree left behind
Turnpike expansion site off Sharon Road in Robbinsville where trees were removed

A broken promise from the state over the replacement of hundreds of trees felled for the Turnpike expansion has Republican mayors in at least two towns spitting mad and threatening to sue the administration.

Mayor David Fried of Robbinsville said his town is prepared to sue the state to recover more than $3.5 million that was promised them as part of a state’s No Net Loss reforestation program, but was diverted by the governor in his first budget.

The money, which totals more than $15 million for all of the towns involved, was moved to the general Department of Environmental Protection budget for use in statewide park maintenance.

“The reason we allowed the Turnpike Authority onto the land is they agreed to the reforestation. Had we known that we wouldn’t get the money we would never in a million years have agreed to sell the land,” Fried said.

Hamilton Township and East Windsor also saw funds diverted and Republican Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo said he also is prepared to join the suit.

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Gilmore says he has no plans to return to public office

Gilmore says he has no plans to return to public office
Former Hamilton Mayor Glen Gilmore

If Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) prevails in a special election and obtains the 14th District state senate seat, former Hamilton Mayor Glen Gilmore does not intend to seek her vacated assembly seat, he told

"It was a privilege for me to serve in public office," said the mayor, who lost re-election in 2007 to Mayor John Bencivengo. "Also, my first experience with public life actually came when I served as a legislative aide to Joseph Patero who had served as an Assemblyman for the the 14th Legislative District. I began when I was a high school student and my hometown of Manville was part of the 14th District.

"I am, however, enjoying private life and have no plans to return to public office in the near future," added the Democrat.

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Bencivengo says no to Senate seat

Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo said today that he will not be a candidate for State Senate in the 14th district, where Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton) will resign next month to become the Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  

“In the last 24 hours I have had the opportunity to give serious consideration as to whether seeking our district's Senate seat would benefit the residents of Hamilton Township more than my service to them as their Mayor,” Bencivengo said.  “Although I believe we have accomplished very much as a community during these past 2 years, there are still many goals that I wish to achieve for Hamilton Township.”

Republicans expect that Bencivengo’s withdrawal will clear the way for Hamilton Councilman Thomas Goodwin to go to the Senate in a March special election convention.

Three Democrats – Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro), Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), and former state Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri – are seeking support for the Democratic nomination.  There will be a special election in November.

The full text of Bencivengo’ statement:

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Greenstein finishes the day as front runner for Dem Senate nomination

Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) is moving quickly to line up support for a State Senate run, and in the last ten hours has emerged as the front runner for the Democratic nomination. The six-term legislator appears to have locked up her home county, Middlesex, and tonight won the endorsement of the Mayor of West Windsor in Mercer County.  While the two counties are about evenly split in population, Middlesex has produced more than 64% of the Democratic primary votes in recent legislative races.  Two-term Assemblyman Wayne D’Angelo (D-Hamilton) said today that he was also interested in the Senate seat, and support from organized labor and a strong base in the district’s largest municipality make him a contender for the nomination.  A trial balloon for a third candidate, former state Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri, seems to have gotten nowhere; fourteenth district Democrats don’t appear especially interested in letting outsiders pick their candidates, and state Democrats will have little choice but to fund the eventual nominee in a district that gives them a excellent chance to picking up another Senate seat.

On the Republican side, the resignation of State Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton) caught Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo by surprise; Bencivengo is on vacation in Florida, and is taking a few days to decide if he wants to pursue the Senate seat.   Out of courtesy, Hamilton Councilman Thomas Goodwin is waiting for Bencivengo to make a decision.  Goodwin is in a no-lose position – he’ll either be a State Senator within the next few weeks, or he’ll be the new Mayor – unless Councilwoman Kelly Yaede emerges as a Senate candidate.  State Republicans seem convinced that their candidate should be from Hamilton, and once the GOP settles on a candidate, it is unlikely that there will be a contest at the special election convention.

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Goodwin, taken by surprise, mulls state senate bid

Goodwin, taken by surprise, mulls state senate bid

Hamilton Councilman Tom Goodwin has not decided whether he’ll seek to replace state Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton) next month.

“I’ve got to sit down and talk to my family about it. It’s all happening quickly.  And as a family we haven’t talked about it yet,” said Goodwin.  “Right now it’s Bill’s day.  He should be congratulated on his new position. I guess in the next coming weeks we can decide who’s going to succeed him.”

Republican county committee members from the Mercer and Middlesex portions of the district will meet sometime next month to pick a replacement for Baroni who will serve until at least January, 2011.  A special election will be held in November for the remaining year of Baroni’s term.

In Republican circles, Goodwin is the most talked about potential successor to Baroni, but Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo has not ruled out a run.  Councilwoman Kelly Yaede, whose name was reportedly included along with Goodwin and Bencivengo in a recent Republican survey of the district, could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Goodwin, a financial consultant, tried to engage in a normal work routine today, but his phone hummed constantly.  He had no idea that Baroni was in line to become the top New Jersey official on the Port Authority.

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Bencivengo won't rule out District 14 senate run

Bencivengo won't rule out District 14 senate run
Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo

HAMILTON - Mayor John Bencivengo said he is not ruling out a run for the District 14 senate seat being vacated by state Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton).

"I've had all of an hour to think about this, to be honest with you," Bencivengo told "I like to be the mayor. My first decision would have to be whether I can better serve the people as mayor of Hamilton or as the senator. I am going to consider it."

Elected the Republican mayor of District 14's largest town in 2007, Bencivengo unseated Democrat Glen Gilmore in the general election by fewer than 600 votes.

Sources say Councilman Tom Goodwin is also a possible candidate - maybe the frontrunner for Baroni's seat.

"I haven't talked to him about this," said Bencivengo, referring to Goodwin.

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Mercer Dem chairman says GOP polled on potential 14th District senate candidates

an early indication of who Republicans are thinking about picking to replace outgoing state Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton)?

Mercer County Democratic Chairman Rich McClellan said that Republicans recently polled the district's voters with the names of three potential candidates, all of whom are elected officials from Hamilton, the district’s largest town: Mayor John Bencivengo, Councilman Tom Goodwin and Councilwoman Kelly Yaede.

“I know of at least two people who got it,” said McClellan.  “They were talking about the legislature in general. Senate was mentioned as well as the assembly.”

Goodwin ran for assembly in 2007, coming in a close third behind Democrat Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton).  Yaede was the Republican establishment’s choice to run for assembly in 2009, but she ultimately decided not to, miffing some members of the Republican leadership. 

Mercer County Republican Chairman Roy Wesley, however, said that he had nothing to do with the poll and was not even aware of it. In fact, he said, he had no idea that Baroni was under consideration to become the Port Authority’s deputy executive director.”

“If there have been polls that have been commissioned they weren’t commissioned by us,” he said.  “That doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there. I have to assume this is something that Bill was discussing with the Governor for a while.”

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McClellan: Dems have advantage in District 14

Mercer County Democratic Chairman Richard McClellan says that his party has a major advantage in the November special election for outgoing state Sen. Bill Baroni’s (R-Hamilton) seat. 

“I don’t think there’s any question that as long as we don’t screw it up, it is a Democratic advantage,” he said. “We can’t be eating our young here.”

What McClellan could not say was whether his party would automatically back its own assemblyman, Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), over Assemblywoman Linda Greeinstein (D-Plainsboro), a longer-term incumbent who was the top vote-getter in last year’s election but lives in neighboring Middlesex County. 

McClellan would not even speculate as to the likelihood of a primary.

“I think it’s way too early to tell about that,” he said.

In losing Baroni, Republicans will have a hard time finding a candidate who is both pro-labor and pro-life.  

McClellan said that Republicans have nobody like him within their field of recruits.

“There’s really nobody on their bench that rises to his stature at all, because he was frankly able to transcend individual issues,” he said.  “The names I’m hearing that they’re talking about have basically one-tenth the intellect and one-tenth the charm.  The bench is really kind of shallow on their side”

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For Baroni's seat: Bencivengo or Goodwin for GOP, Greenstein or DeAngelo for Dems?

The surprise announcement that Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton) will leave the State Senate to become Gov. Christopher Christie’s guy at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will trigger a November 2010 special election in one of the state’s most politically competitive legislative districts – and possibly a referendum on Christie’s first ten months as governor.

The race will ignite an early electoral battle between Republicans and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford), who will almost certainly spend a huge amount of money to capture the Senate seat.  Democrats viewed Baroni as unbeatable in 2011, but his move up the ladder to a top post on Christie’s team puts the seat in play.

Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo and Councilman Thomas Goodwin are the most likely contenders to fill Baroni’s seat.  Republican County Committee from the seven towns in the fourteenth district will hold a special election, probably next month.  The new Senator will take office immediately and run as an incumbent.

Baroni’s pending resignation sets up a potential fight for the Democratic nomination, as Democrats seeks to pick up another Senate seat one year before the mid-term election and legislative redistricting.  Six-term Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and two-term Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) are likely to be the leading candidates in the special.  Neither would need to risk their Assembly seats to run for Senate; if Democrats win, the Democratic County Committee would hold another special election convention to appoint a new Assembly member.

When Republican Peter Inverso retired in 2007, Baroni moved quickly to secure key labor endorsements that essentially muscled Greenstein out of the Senate race. In the general election, he beat former state Rate Counsel Seema Singh by a 62%-38% margin.  Greenstein easily won re-election, and DeAngelo edged out Goodwin by 821 votes. 

In 2009, Greenstein (18,988) and DeAngelo (18,531) beat back challenges from Republicans Rob Calabro (16,146) and Bill Harvey (15,341).  Christie carried the district, which has the state’s largest public employee population, 48%-46%, despite huge support for Gov. Jon Corzine by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA).

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This is how you get re-elected

As New Jersey braces for another snowstorm, noteworthy is Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo’s website, where residents can use “Snow Plow Sal” to monitor the movements of snow plows to determine when their street will be plowed.  Hamilton also has "Pothole Pete."

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The Back Room

Christie invades South Carolina

On his first visit to South Carolina as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Gov. Chris Christie stayed in "moderate Charleston, in contrast to other potential GOP candidates who made early visits to conservatives elsewhere," according to an ABC News report.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 17th

U.S. Senate race: Bell defends gold standard stance MONTCLAIR - On the same day he was politically brickbatted by the chief adviser to the last Republican challenger to incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), GOP Senate candidate Jeff Bell stood by a key plank of policy platform: monetary reform...


Legislation needed for publicly financed gubernatorial elections

By JEFF BRINDLE It is critical that the Legislature soon enact a pending bill that would ensure the state’s Gubernatorial Public Financing Program is available in the event of a special election for governor.  Not only is there no current legal... Read More >


(9-17-14) Viral Video Prompts Questionable NJ Municipal Ordinance -  Socrates said, “While I might disagree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say... more »
The Correct Foreign Policy – Neither Fortress America Nor Pax Americana      Last week marked the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War 2.  It started with the... more »
(Asbury Park, NJ) -- There's a word for someone who says one thing and does another: hypocrite.  There's no shortage of 'em in Trenton -- from ... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

“Clearly there’s some resemblance with Theodore Roosevelt. That direct confrontational style of leadership.” - historian Doris Hearns Goodwin, referring to Gov. Chris Christie.

- The Times of Trenton


Who would make the best running mate for Chris Christie if he lands the GOP nomination for president?:


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