TRENTON – A former mayor and longtime institution of the state’s capital city this morning offered his own favorite in a budding contest to replace outgoing U.S. Rep-elect Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) in Central Jersey’s 15th legislative district.
Former Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer said prospective LD15 candidate Sam Frisby would have his vote in a special Mercer County convention to succeed Watson Coleman, who was elected New Jersey’s first African American Congresswoman in Nov. 4th’s general election against Republican Aelita Eck.
“Absolutely. If I had a vote I’d vote for him, and I encourage anyone who has a vote to vote for him. I think he’s very committed, he’s a new face, and he’s served the district well,” Palmer told PolitickerNJ in a phone interview.
Frisby’s is one of a few names currently being mulled by political observers and insiders as a potential candidate for the LD15 seat, where what looks to be a heated contest is developing ahead of the Democratic convention next month. Frisby, a first term Mercer County freeholder and CEO of Trenton YMCA, has expressed an interest in the seat, announcing last month that he’s forming an exploratory committee to evaluate a possible run in the district. Mercer County Democratic chair Liz Muoio is another possible candidate, and has the backing of Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, who declared his support for her early on.
“He’s working very hard, and I’m fully supportive of him, 100 percent,” Palmer said of Frisby. “I believe that he would make an outstanding Assemblyman and follow the tradition of Johnny Watson and Gerald Naples and Bonnie Watson Coleman of advocating on behalf of working families and advocating for the city of Trenton and for the whole region.”
“I feel strongly about that,” he added.
But the contest is creating waves among county leadership as well, sources say. Frisby is a close ally of newly-minted Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson, who told PolitickerNJ last week that his allegiance is to his longtime friend (Frisby was also one of the only county officials to back Jackson in his primary battle with Walker Worthy earlier this year). Hughes, on the other hand, has voiced strong support for Muoio, who he argues is the “most qualified” candidate for the job.
Last week, Hughes told PolitickerNJ that if a special convention were held today, Muoio would likely win it, with support from places like Ewing and Trenton — an assessment Palmer disagreed with.
“He shouldn’t be certain about that because when you look at the delegates Trenton really has the most, and if Sam solidifies them and some other places like Hunterdon where he’s making some inroads right now and little fringes, there will probably be a second vote and it will probably be him and Liz,” Palmer said of Muoio’s potential support. “It all depends on how well he’s able to do in getting committed committee people right now.”
Frisby, 46, also served as Trenton’s director of recreation, natural resources and culture under Palmer’s administration.