There are now more Democrats than Republicans in Monmouth County, and the GOP is in danger of losing control of the Freeholder Board for the first time since 1986, but state Democrats remain lukewarm over the prospects of playing for State Assembly seats in Districts 11, 12 and 13 in 2009. Nearly six months before filing day, Democrats are uncertain about investing money to oust any of the six Republican incumbents in districts where they have invested heavily in recent years.
Indeed, twelfth district Democrats won a Senate seat and two Assembly seats in 2003 after ethics charges were hurled at longtime incumbent John Bennett, then the Co-President of the State Senate. But the GOP won back one of the Assembly seats two years later, and seats in the Senate and Assembly in 2007. They have been unable to crack the Republican hold on Districts 11, where an aggressive campaign in 2005 fell short, and in District 13, where they came within a few hundred votes of ousting an incumbent five years ago.
Now, it appears Democrats are prepared to wait patiently for 2011, with the hope that they can prevail during the legislative redistricting process and secure a better district. One idea that seems to be receiving universal consideration by Democratic legislative leaders is to place Jennifer Beck, a freshman Republican State Senator from Red Bank, in a district with either Sean Kean or Joseph Kyrillos, who represent the 11th and 12th districts in the Senate, respectively. Democrats want to add part of Middlesex County, perhaps strongly Democratic Monroe and Plainsboro, to the 12th and remove some Republican towns.
One Democrat who could emerge as a challenger to incumbents Caroline Casagrande and Declan O’Scanlon in 2009 is East Winsor Mayor Janice Mironov, who comes from the Mercer County portion of the district. Mironov has spent the last seven years angry that East Windsor was moved out of the neighboring 14th district, where she ran for Assembly in 1987 (losing a Democratic primary to Anthony Cimino and Joseph Patero) and again in 1997 (losing a general election to GOP incumbents Paul Kramer and Barbara Wright by a wide margin). Mironov is not well-liked by Monmouth County Democrats, and if she winds up on the ticket, it might be a signal that Democrats don’t intend on targeting Casagrande or O’Scanlon.