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.
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.”
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”Read More >
New Jersey Republicans admit that there is little possibility they'll turn over control of the Assembly this year, but they have hyped their chances in some sleeper districts where they don't typically compete.
Fundraising reports released today show that some money is being raised in those purported sleeper districts, but not much.
In the 4th District, Republicans Domenick DiCicco and Eugene Lawrence have raised $69,887 - most of which comes from attorneys all over the country. That's about half of the $134,473 incumbent Paul Moriarty (D-Washington Twp.) and newcomer Democratic running mate Bill Collins have raised.
"Obviously District 4 is a place where we expect to do well," said Republican State Chairman Jay Webber.
Republicans haven't talked much about District 7, which is considered a Democratic district even though GOP Sen. Diane Allen (R-Edgewater Park) has won there five times. But their Assembly candidates there - Leah Arter and Harry Adams - have raised almost $90,000 and have spent $77,263 (The Assembly Republican Victory committee took enough notice to donate almost $5,000). The two Republican candidates have $12,250 on hand.
Chris Russell, a political consultant for Arter and Adams, said the campaign against incumbents Herbert Conaway (D-Delanco) and Jack Conners (D-Pennsauken) is "under the rader."
"We know the district is difficult, but we figure the only way to put them is position is the old fashioned way," said Russell, who cited the candidates' aggressive ground game. "If they're in position, we'll strike, and I think right now, they're definitely outworking Conaway and Connors on the ground."
Conners and Conaway have raised a combined $196,603 and have about $53,000 on hand.
District 14 was supposed to be one of the Republicans' top races this year, but their recruitment efforts fell through after Hamilton Councilwoman Kelly Yaede dropped out at the last minute.Read More >
Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Parsippany) is having a tough year playing the candidate recruitment game this year.
At the start of the campaign season, only four districts were viewed as potentially competitive for the Republicans: District 1, a GOP-leaning district where Democrats hold two Assembly seats and will not have the benefit of coattails from popular State Sen. Jefferson Van Drew (D-Upper); District 3, where four-term Assemblyman Douglas Fisher gave up his seat to become state Secretary of Agriculture; District 14, which has elected Democratic and Republican legislators in each of the last four elections; and District 36, where two Democratic Assemblymen were re-elected by a relatively narrow margin two years ago and where the EnCap/Xanadu issues have taken a toll on local candidates.
But the GOP has not done well recruiting or nominating their strongest candidates. Their top choice in the 36th district, East Rutherford Councilman Joel Brizzi, changed his mind about running and dropped out between his announcement and filing day. Some Republicans think there might be more to the story, suggesting that State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Sanzari) might have helped alter the field.
The top GOP recruits in the 14th, Hamilton Councilwoman Kelly Yaede and former Cranbury Councilman Wayne Wittman, ended their campaigns just days before the GOP nominating conventions. Republicans wound up with a primary between second choice candidates, and DeCroce had to spend money to nominate two political unknowns.
In District 3, Republicans worked to recruit Arthur Marchand, a top-tier challenger who had served as Cumberland County Surrogate, Freeholder and Prosecutor. But Marchand and his running mate, East Greenwich Mayor George Shivery, lost the GOP primary by a razor thin margin.Read More >
Assembly Republicans are spending money in the 14th district in a clear bid to stop 21-year-old college student Brian Hackett from winning the GOP primary. At least five mailings have been sent out on behalf of restaurant owner Rob Calabro and attorney Bill Harvey, who are running on the Mercer County organization line. Hackett is running alone on the line in Middlesex.
The campaign to oust incumbents Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) fell apart a week before the filing deadline when the two candidates recruited by Republicans, Hamilton Councilwoman Kelly Yaede and former Cranbury Councilman Wayne Wittman, unexpectedly changed their minds about running. Mercer Republicans convinced Calabro, a former Freeholder candidate, to run. But when Middlesex couldn't find a candidate and Hackett showed up at the convention and won, Mercer refused to accept him. Middlesex has stuck with Hackett, the winner of their convention.
In 2005, about 600 more Republicans voted in Mercer than in Middlesex. In 2001, the Mercer edge was about 500.Read More >
The search for GOP Assembly candidates in the politically competitive fourteenth district continues, with Republicans viewing restaurant owner Rob Calabro as a stand-in candidate until party officials can find a stronger candidate. The Mercer GOP has been in turmoil since Hamilton Councilwoman Kelly Yaede unexpectedly backed out of the race against Democrats Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton). Other potential candidates, including former Hamilton Mayor/Assemblyman Jack Rafferty, former Mercer County GOP Chair Cathy Tramontana, '08 Sheriff candidate James McSorely, and Councilman Thomas Goodwin all declined.Read More >
From the Democratic side, there is no shortage of snickering at the ineptitude of Mercer County Republicans who have been unable to find State Assembly candidates in one of the few districts where Democrats admit their incumbents are vulnerable. The Mercer GOP is holding their convention tonight and the Middlesex GOP will pick their candidates on Saturday. With just hours to go before the balloting begins, Republicans have no one to take on incumbents Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton).
Less than a week ago, Republicans had their ticket: Hamilton Councilwoman Kelly Yaede and former Cranbury Councilman Wayne Wittman. Both have subsequently changed their minds. Yaede apparently decided to run more than a week ago, but held off notifying party leaders. Her withdrawal comes two weeks after she was introduced as a candidate at an Assembly Republican fundraiser and met with gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie. Sources say that Yaede has been flip-flopping about an Assembly bid for the last two months, being in the race one day and out the next. She has Hamilton Republicans so angry that there is speculation that the local GOP might dump her from their ticket in 2011.Read More >
Hamilton Council President Kelly Yaede has decided not to run for assembly in the 14th Legislative District, leaving Mercer County Republicans without a candidate in a district they hope to make one of the most competitive in the state.
“Right now I think there’s too much at stake for me to do otherwise,” said Yaede. “I ran two straight years for the position on the council, and it’s a job that I absolutely love, and I intend to continue to serve the people of Hamilton Township.”
Yaede’s decision has left party leaders scrambling to find candidates in time for the Mercer County Republican convention tomorrow night. One party source said that they might have to come up witha placeholder to extend their recruitment window, then switch them out when they find suitable candidates.
Yaede was considered the top choice to take on assembly incumbents Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton). Another top recruit, former State Trooper Jim McSorley, who ran for sheriff last year, opted against running earlier this month.Read More >
Democratic Party insiders are converging tonight on the Morristown home of attorney Phil Sellinger.Read More >
Days Since Last Christie Press Conference (Jan. 9)
Bridget Anne Kelly’s attorney says lawmakers rushed to judgement An attorney for former top Gov. Chris Christie administration official Bridget Anne Kelly filed paperwork arguing his client shouldn’t have to comply with a legislative subpoena. The documents, filed by Kelly attorney Michael Critchley, argues lawmakers rushed to judgment...
By Suzanne M. Walters When unions representing local police and firefighters cannot agree to new contract terms with local governments, State law mandates that the parties submit to binding arbitration. A third-party referee, then, sets the... Read More >
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