The only announced CD12 candidate from Middlesex County, state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14) of Plainsboro has several factors working in her favor right now – and several possible serious challenges as the primary field develops.
First, Greenstein has a rep as a suburban Pascrell, a candidate whose ubiquity in front of LD14 shopping centers is rivaled only by Red Box.
More battle-tested than any other person in the contest, Greenstein – CD12 candidacy reported first by PoltiickerNJ – owns back-to-back senate wins over three solid Republican candidates: state Sen. Tom Goodwin, child advocate Richard Kanka, and former Senator Pete Inverso.
Second, the mighty Middlesex lacks a congressperson.
Most of the 6th District occupies Middlesex but U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6) hails from Long Branch in Monmouth County.
Home to 76,251 registered Democrats and 29,756 registered Republicans and a total 195,957 total registered voters, Mercer has two resident congress people – U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) of Hamilton and the retiring U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12) of Hopewell Township.
With 419,735 total registered voters, Middlesex harbors 157,425 Democrats and 54,994 Republicans – and congressperson who resides within its borders.
That’s an embarrassment that a new party leader like Middlesex County Democratic Organization Chairman Kevin McCabe has to consider when solidifying support for his home county charge.
There’s also the gender factor.
A proud, self-proclaimed blue state bastion, New Jersey must give the moral high ground to Alabama on the subject of gender representation. New Jersey has 12 congresspeople and no women. Laughed off as a backwater if it ever comes up at all, Alabama, by comparison, quietly counts two women among its seven representatives.
Fourth, Greenstein also has the advantage tonight of a Mercer County top heavy with candidates, among them state Sen. Shirley Turner (D-15), Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15), Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) and Clerk Paula Covello.
Although McCabe hasn’t yet issued a formal statement of support, he has one candidate to choose from while Mercer wrestles with itself.
Already on record in support of his districtmate – and motivated by his own ascent to replace her – Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo has a power projection platform as leader of IBEW Local 269 and considerable political pull in the region.
That’s the plus side for Greenstein.
Now the negatives.
While Middlesex lacks a congressperson now, the bulk of the 6th ranges across Middlesex, meaning that when Pallone moves on, a Middlesex pol will occupy the 6th. That means an aggressive Mercer Democrat can push back against the argument that the 12th should go to Middlesex by pointing to the sure future of the 6th.
To the argument about gender, Mercer has at least three women positioned for a run.
If Democrats can prevail on the formidable Hughes to yield, Mercer Dems have two hearty female brand names in state Sen. Shirley Turner (D-15) and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15).
As the LD15 senator, Turner has a leg up on her district-mate.
But if she doesn’t want it, Watson Coleman could also counter Greenstein’s corner market on gender.
A source tonight told PolitickerNJ that based on her history with the organization, the Carpenters would get behind Watson Coleman if she were to pursue a congressional run, a dynamic that would complicate matters for Greenstein, dependant on McCabe’s advocacy from the throne of Middlesex County power.
If that’s true about the Carpenters and Watson Coleman, it hampers McCabe, who hails from the political ranks of the Carpenters. It means McCabe and Greenstein would be heading into war with part of the chairman’s army engaged on behalf of a rival candidate.
Then there are the question marks related to the Somerset and Union portions of the district.
Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-17) from Franklin Township declared his candidacy this evening.
A good soldier in 2012 when he ran a credible campaign against U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7), Chivukula can take a legitimate stab at the line in his home county of Somerset.
An aggressive campaigner who badly wants to be a congressman, Chivukula will be well-funded, will campaign hard, and will tug at suburban Middlesex County votes – Greenstein’s base.
Every time Greenstein turns around, she will see Chivukula in charged up campaign mode.
Then there’s Union County Democratic Chairman (and Assemblyman) Jerry Green of Plainfield, who yesterday remarked to PolitickerNJ that he is interested in an alliance between his hometown of Plainfield and Trenton in a play for a bucked up urban vote.
If Green – who said he’s personally interested in the seat – stands down and backs either Turner or Watson Coleman, Mercer could solidify an alliance with Union and thereby gain an advantage on Greenstein’s cemented Middlesex.
The combination of Carpenters and Union-Mercer on behalf of one of the Mercer women – and a Chivukula in war paint campaign mode would put considerable pressure on the frontrunner.