That coveted second seat in the 14th district

In the 14th district, three men are waging a tough campaign for that second Assembly seat behind popular incumbent Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein.

The favorites would appear to be Republican Tom Goodwin and Democrat Wayne DeAngelo. Both men are from Hamilton in Mercer County, themost populous town in the 14thdistrict, wherethe parties are well organizedand where a large number of independent voters go to the polls.

But the third man in the contest, Goodwin's running mate Adam Bushman, a veteran and former Jamesburg councilman, has racked up some key newspaper endorsements along with the backing of the New Jersey Education Association.

On Saturday, all three men were campaigning hard and talking about issues in this race, including the candidates' differences on state funding for stem cell research and the threat to the Fair and Clean Elections process of an ad campaign launched by the conservative outside group Common Sense America.

The district is composed of a cross section of voters in Middlesex and Mercer. Two and a half weeks before Election Day, DeAngelo was distributing fliers outside a supermarket in the Middlesex town of Monroe, Goodwin was going door-to-door in the Middlesex town of South Brunswick, and Bushman, who lives in Middlesex, was ringing doorbells in Hamilton andshoring up his chances in neighboring Mercer County.

DeAngelo, a labor leader and electrician by trade, on Saturday morning in North Brunswick welcomed fellow union brothers from Middlesex to campaign with him. The Democratic candidate is still disappointed that he did not receive the NJEA's endorsement in this race. He didn't graduate fromcollege, he says, but he argues that the collective bargaining he has fought for as a union organizer goes to the heart of values he shares with the state teachers' union.

When he was a councilman and township employees couldn't settle on a contract, DeAngelo championed their cause, and set up a picket line at the council meeting.

Bushman comes to the race as a computer whiz working on his PhD. Nothing against unions, he says. He was in a union once and his mother belonged to the Communications of America. But, he argues, he would be a more independent voice for the district in part because he isn't constrained bya particular agenda.

DeAngelo argues thatthe AFL-CIO and the building and tradesorganizations bind together toaddress the needs of working families and to protect their rights and that would be hisonly agenda if he went to Trenton. Plenty of Hamilton voters are aligned with labor. There are more than 7,500active union members and 8,000 retired in Hamilton.

GOP state Senate candidate Assemblyman Bill Baroni, the man at the top of the ticket withGoodman and Bushman, unlike his running mates hasthe support of labor – includingDeAngelo's own electrical workers' local. That coveted second seat in the 14th district