Republican Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo, who is running for his second terms as mayor of the state’s ninth largest city, Wednesday received the endorsement of the Mercer-Burlington Counties and Vicinity Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO.
The union endorsement comes with a bit of irony as the president of the council, Wayne DeAngelo, is a Democrat running for re-election to the state Assembly in the 14th District, which includes Hamilton.
“Mayor Bencivengo has demonstrated a genuine concern for working families, responsible labor practices and the right to collective bargaining, which our local councils recognize and support,” said DeAngelo, who is assistant business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #269.
Bencivengo is facing off against Democrat Connie Carella Dalton, a local business owner, for the top spot in Hamilton government.
“I believe that the American worker is the backbone of the American Dream,” said Bencivengo. “I am both humbled and proud to have the support of our local building trades and am eager to continue working cooperatively with local labor as I seek to expand economic opportunities for working families across Hamilton Township.”
Bencivengo is nearing the end of his first term, secured in 2007 with the defeat of two-term Democrat Glen Gilmore. Mercer County Republican sources say though the party is expecting Bencivengo to win going away, he is nevertheless pushing for a large get out the vote effort.
His goal, GOP sources said, is to win big enough that he and Hamilton will be players in the coming gubernatorial election.
“If he wins Hamilton by a huge margin, we’re hoping the governor will take notice,” one source said.
Bencivengo is joined on the Republican ticket by Council members Kelly Yaede and Kevin Meara. All five members of the Hamilton council are Republicans and the GOP is pushing to keep Democrats from making inroads.
Meara is a former Democrat who won election to the council as a Republican in 2007. Yaede has also served on the school board in Hamilton and works for the American Cancer Society.
They are opposed by Democrats Tennille McCoy and Daniel Keelan. Keelan is the owner of a telecommunications form in town and McCoy is a part-time Realtor who works with the Camden Board of Education.
Republicans have controlled Hamilton government since 2007 with the victories of Bencivengo, Yaede and Meara. The loss of both branches of government was a stunning turnaround for Democrats who from 2002 to 2006 had held the council and the mayor’s office and were considered on the upswing in the traditionally Republican-controlled township.
However, a series of controversial moves by the Democrats stoked voter anger and ushered Republicans Tom Goodwin, Dave Kenny and Dennis Pone into office. The three were followed by Yaede who won a special election for an unexpired term and later re-election to a full term. Meara joined the council in 2007, completing the GOP sweep.
Republicans in town are hoping that the mayor’s re-election run will help to boost turnout for the GOP in its bid to take the Senate seat and two 14th District Assembly seats on the ballot.
Republican Richard Kanka of Hamilton is facing Democratic incumbent Linda Greenstein in the 14th District and heavy GOP turnout could boost his chances, Republicans say. Both Democratic Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo and Assemblyman Dan Benson are from Hamilton and they are facing out of towners in Republicans Wayne Wittman of Cranbury and Sheree McGowan of Robbinsville.