TRENTON – Mercer County Freeholder Samuel Frisby won’t run for that vacant LD15 Assembly seat after all, he told PolitickerNJ.
Frisby’s surrender puts Mercer County Democratic Chair Liz Muoio in the pole position to get the party nomination to succeed U.S. Rep.-elect Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) as the LD15 assemblywoman.
“I’m going to pull my name from the LD 15 race, and we’re going to support Liz Muoio,” Frisby, a Democrat, said on Tuesday. “At this time, we want to make sure that we don’t fracture our party, but build up our party.”
Frisby’s decision came a few weeks in advance of the special Democratic convention to determine the party’s nominee for the LD 15 seat, which includes municipalities in Mercer and Hunterdon counties, scheduled to be held on Jan. 24.
Frisby, who announced last week that he was making a bid for the LD 15 seat, explained that several factors “gave him pause” before he decided to end his Assembly bid.
“I have the opportunity through my national organization to work on my master’s degree [in executive leadership] with reimbursement at Springfield College [in Massachusetts], which is going to require me to be out of town a couple of times of year for two weeks at a time,” said Frisby, 46, of Trenton, the CEO of the Trenton YMCA.
“When I looked at the numbers [in LD 15], the numbers were very, very close,” Frisby added. “The challenge is when you look at the numbers, although we’ve done a very good job of shoring up our seats in the city of Trenton and other places, I wasn’t quite positively sure about some seats in a couple of the other districts. When I can’t count on the numbers, that makes me a little uneasy.”
The end of Frisby’s Assembly run defuses a proxy clash between two powerful Mercer County Democratic politicians. Frisby is an ally of Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson, while Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes declared his support in July for Muoio to step into the state Assembly seat soon to be vacated by Watson Coleman. Incumbent Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) has also said that he is running again.
By backing out of the assembly bid and supporting Muoio, Frisby secured support in return to claim the chairmanship of the Mercer County freeholder board.
“My colleagues have pledged their support to me being the freeholder chair, since they feel I can now be focused be on the chairmanship at this time,” said Frisby, apparently ending a brewing controversy several days before the Jan. 2 freeholder reorganization meeting.
While Frisby will not be running for Assembly in LD 15 after all, he plans to continue to be a strong advocate for his hometown.
“I’m still very adamant about ensuring that there is authentic representation from the city of Trenton,” Frisby said. “When I really looked at LD 15, 41 percent [of the state legislative district], about 85,000 people, live in Trenton. The people who live in Trenton have about half of the median income of the rest of LD 15. Somebody has to speak for those people.”