Greenstein finishes the day as front runner for Dem Senate nomination

Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) is moving quickly to line up support for a State Senate run, and in the last ten hours has emerged as the front runner for the Democratic nomination. The six-term legislator appears to have locked up her home county, Middlesex, and tonight won the endorsement of the Mayor of West Windsor in Mercer County.  While the two counties are about evenly split in population, Middlesex has produced more than 64% of the Democratic primary votes in recent legislative races.  Two-term Assemblyman Wayne D’Angelo (D-Hamilton) said today that he was also interested in the Senate seat, and support from organized labor and a strong base in the district’s largest municipality make him a contender for the nomination.  A trial balloon for a third candidate, former state Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri, seems to have gotten nowhere; fourteenth district Democrats don’t appear especially interested in letting outsiders pick their candidates, and state Democrats will have little choice but to fund the eventual nominee in a district that gives them a excellent chance to picking up another Senate seat.

On the Republican side, the resignation of State Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton) caught Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo by surprise; Bencivengo is on vacation in Florida, and is taking a few days to decide if he wants to pursue the Senate seat.   Out of courtesy, Hamilton Councilman Thomas Goodwin is waiting for Bencivengo to make a decision.  Goodwin is in a no-lose position – he’ll either be a State Senator within the next few weeks, or he’ll be the new Mayor – unless Councilwoman Kelly Yaede emerges as a Senate candidate.  State Republicans seem convinced that their candidate should be from Hamilton, and once the GOP settles on a candidate, it is unlikely that there will be a contest at the special election convention.

Goodwin ran against Greenstein and DeAngelo in a 2007 Assembly race, when Baroni gave up his seat to run for Senator.  Goodwin trailed Greenstein by 3,968 votes and DeAngelo by 821 votes.  In Hamilton, Goodwin beat Greenstein by 2,718 votes and DeAngelo by 2,692 votes. 

If Bencivengo does opt for the Senate, it will mean a special election in November for mayor.  Democratic sources suggest that Mercer County Freeholder Daniel Benson, a former Council President, would enter the race. 

Greenstein finishes the day as front runner for Dem Senate nomination