Mercer County Freeholder Keith Hamilton has wanted to run for the Legislature for eight years. He put his name in for the Democratic nomination back in 1999, but his party picked Gary Guear and Linda Greenstein to run against GOP incumbents Paul Kramer and Barbara Wright. He formed an exploratory committee to run for State Senate in 2003, but was pressured to drop his bid so that state Democratic leaders could clear the filed for Anthony “Skip” Cimino to run against Republican incumbent Peter Inverso — which he did without success. Hamilton sought the Democratic Assembly nomination in 2005 to run against Republican Bill Baroni, who had ousted Guear two years earlier — but instead, his party chose Hamilton Council President Daniel Benson, who ran far behind Baroni and Greenstein. 2007 was supposed to be Hamilton’s year. Mercer County Democrats had signed off on the four-term Freeholder’s candidacy, and Hamilton had begun making the rounds in a bid for general election support to unseat Baroni, the popular GOP rising star who is often mentioned as a leading Republican U.S. Senate candidate in 2008. The problem for Hamilton was that this time, unlike 1999, 2003 and 2005, he would have to give up his Freeholder seat in order to run for higher office. (Some pundits say that might be the reason his Democrats were ready to let Hamilton run this time.) Ultimately, Hamilton was unwilling to risk the job he holds now for the job he has always wanted; instead, the testicularly-challenged Hamilton will run for Freeholder again, and Democrats are launching a search to find someone to take on Baroni.