Janice Mitchell Mintz, front runner for Worst Campaign of the Year

Republicans controlled the Mercer County Executive's office from 1979 until 2003, when Catherine DiCostanzo lost by just 1,673 votes (49%-47%) to Democrat Brian Hughes. Four years later, Hughes seems like a safe bet for re-election despite a seemingly strong GOP challenger: Janice Mitchell Mintz, who served in Governor Christine Todd Whitman's cabinet as Commissioner of Personnel, and as Assistant Counsel to Governor Thomas Kean. The 48-year-old lawyer and Republican State Committeewoman is smart, articulate, and has enough contacts to raise a competitive warchest. She has competitive candidates running at the top of her ticket: Bill Baroni, who can potentially win Hamilton and West Windsor by huge pluralities; Jennifer Beck in East Windsor and Hightstown; and Robert Martin, who is running an aggressive and well-financed race in District 15, which includes the rest of Mercer County.

But after six months as a candidate, Mintz's campaign is going nowhere. Sadly for her, one reason for the bad campaign could be her campaign manager, Bob McHugh. A fifty-something ne'er-do-well former Associated Press reporter, McHugh has bounced around alot in recent years, working for candidates from both parties (he was a press aide on Doug Forrester's 2002 U.S. Senate race, but was fired after an ugly incident with the candidate during a debate prep session), followed by a failed stint as a spokesman for a New York City agency (he was fired) before he somehow landed the Mintz gig. He is abrasive, rude, politically incorrect, offensive, and often inappropriate — and despite a long-standing Inside Edge tradition of not bashing staffers, it's clear that McHugh has played a key role in Mintz's potentially successful candidacy for one thing: worst campaign of the year.

Janice Mitchell Mintz, front runner for Worst Campaign of the Year