In race for Speaker, Watson Coleman can’t even get Greenstein

Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) has taken such a big lead in the race for Assembly Speaker that Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) is having trouble finding colleagues willing to publicly support her candidacy. The poster child for Watson Coleman's political failure may be Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro), a friend and political ally who is noticeably on the sidelines.

On the Assembly side, the Democratic leadership fight heated up ten days ago when Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Joseph Spicuzzo announced that the Democratic Assembly delegation was "unanimous" in support of John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) for Speaker. Greenstein had been included in Wisniewski's count because she resides in Middlesex and unanimous indeed means everyone.

One day later, Greenstein said that she was not taking sides in a fight between the two county organizations that make up her legislative district. Mercer County Democrats were backing Watson Coleman. Spicuzzo suggested that his intention was announce endorsements from districts 17, 18 and 19, and did not mean to include district 14. But an early draft of the Wisniewski endorsement release, obtained by, included Greenstein and carried a quote from her.

Early last week, Wisniewski dropped out of the race for Speaker and instead endorsed Oliver, who has become the beneficiary of a deal to replace Senate President Richard Codey (D-Roseland) with Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford). With the Middlesex candidate out of the picture, some Democratic insiders believed that Greenstein would then endorse Watson Coleman. Instead, Greenstein continues to claim neutrality. That is likely to bother some Mercer County Democrats willing to give her a pass in a conflict with her own County Chairman, but not in a deal to seat the gentlewoman from East Orange.

That leaves Watson Coleman at just four votes – her own running mate, the two Assembly members from Codey's district, and herself. Greenstein's running mate, Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), is also staying clear of the race. But DeAngelo has told key party leaders that he will back Oliver.

In race for Speaker, Watson Coleman can’t even get Greenstein