Mercer County Democratic Chairman Richard McClellan strongly deny rumors that County Executive Brian Hughes’s illness might force him to step down before the end of his term, and says that he met with Hughes this morning to talk about his campaign for re-election in 2007. There has been considerable buzz in recent weeks about a Hughes resignation; the County Executive underwent brain surgery in late 2004 to treat trigeminal neuralgia, a disorder that causes intense facial pain. McClellan says that the rumors are “the product of Republican gossip in the county that is aimed not only at the County Executive, but at driving wedges between the party leadership. Each time one of these stories comes back to me, it always has two parts. The first is that Brian is resigning and the second is always that the fix is in for this or that leader to replace him.” Indeed, the specualtion has centered around Hughes’ resigning and Hamilton Mayor Glen Gilmore running for County Executive at a Special Election Convention and in a November 2006 Special Election. Gilmore’s resignation as Mayor would have triggered a Special Election to replace him in Hamilton. “With the Democrats in Mercer in total control of County government for the first time in a few decades, and no likely prospects for that to change in the immediate future, I suspect the whole thing is wishful thinking on the part of a small minority of Republicans who make it a habit of posting bizarre theories on the NJO Bulletin Board,” said McClellan. Democrats have a nearly 2-1 edge in voter registration. Last year, County Clerk Catherine DiCostanzo, the last GOP countywide official, lost re-election by 230 votes and Jon Corzine carried the county with 59% of the vote. Hughes has over $125,000 in his campaign account, and has scheduled fundraisers in April, May and June.