Never easy in number 14

The 14th District features a match-up at the top of the ticket between a man generally regarded as the Republican golden boy, Assemblyman Bill Baroni of Hamilton Township, and former rate payer advocate, Democrat Seema Singh of South Brunswick Township, who is the state’s first Indian-American woman candidate for Senate.

Then there’s the brawl below, where Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein of Plainsboro hopes to hold onto her seat to win a fifth term by turning back Republican challengers Adam Bushman of Jamesburg and Tom Goodwin of Hamilton. Joining Singh and Greenstein on the Democratic ticket as the second Assembly candidate is Wayne DeAngelo of Hamilton.

The known Trenton quantities are favored here, which means both Baroni and Greenstein have the edge. Greenstein has a workhorse reputation and high name recognition, is pro labor and pro environment with a long record of public advocacy in elected office and as a lawyer. With his regular guy image, pro labor views and endorsements to show for it, Baroni appeals to working class families. Like Greenstein, he also likes to boast that he has enough of an independent record to entice the district’s core independents, who make up 73,183 of the voters in the 14th, compared to the Republicans’ 17,681 and the Democrats’ 29,366.

But Singh has shown she’s ready for battle in this clean elections district where each person running must collect 800 donations of $10 apiece to qualify for state campaign funding. Under the rules of the pilot program, the candidates could begin collecting donations in late April, with a deadline of Sept. 30th. In the face of pundits who said her candidacy was more a function of history than likely victory, Singh went into no-nonsense high gear as she collected signatures faster than of the other candidates in this race to qualify as a clean elections district candidate.

The district includes portions of two counties: Mercer with 62,967 voters, and Middlesex with 57,263. The two biggest towns in Middlesex and the bread and butter burghs for Singh and Greenstein are South Brunswick with 19,168 voters, and Monroe (where Greenstein’s office is based) with 24,945.

Then there’s Mercer County’s biggest stronghold in the 14th district, and that’s Hamilton, home to Baroni, DeAngelo, Goodwin, and 50,276 more voters.

Whatever the outcome, everything will come into play in the 14th – and for these candidates walking the neighborhoods and pounding doors in early August, none of it will come easily in this politically charged and highly independent district.

What follows are profiles of the four Assembly candidates in the 14th District from both major parties.

Never easy in number 14