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Senator Linda Greenstein at Gov. Phil Murphy's fiscal year 2023 budget address. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Greenstein backs Benson for county executive

Endorsement means Greenstein and Turner are on opposing sides, for now

By Joey Fox, December 15 2022 10:43 am

Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton)’s Democratic primary campaign for Mercer County Executive against incumbent Brian Hughes picked up another significant endorser today: State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro), Benson’s seatmate in the 14th legislative district.

“Assemblyman Benson is the right person to lead Mercer County as County Executive. His relentless focus on infrastructure, social services, public safety, education and public health will truly deliver for the residents of Mercer County,” Greenstein said.  “In my time serving with the Assemblyman, I’ve come to know him as an honest, effective leader who always puts the needs of residents first. I know he’ll bring the same level of dedication to public service to the County Executive’s Office as he has in the Assembly.”

Greenstein’s endorsement puts her at odds with State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence), a Hughes endorser who represents the Trenton-based 15th district; collectively, Greenstein and Turner represent 11 of Mercer County’s 12 towns. Without a governor’s race on the ballot, they will be on the top of the ticket in most of the county next year – which may be important if the Benson vs. Hughes fight leads to opposing slates in the Democratic primary.

Sources told the New Jersey Globe that Hughes threatened to support a primary campaign against Greenstein if she endorsed Benson; now that the endorsement has been made, it remains to be seen if Hughes follows through on his threat.

As a resident of Plainsboro, Greenstein isn’t technically a Mercer County politician, but a majority of the 14th legislative district’s residents live in the county.

Benson, who formally kicked off his campaign yesterday, starts his campaign with a massive number of local officials on his side, including six county commissioners, six mayors, and nine municipal Democratic chairs spread across Mercer County’s 12 municipalities. The six-term assemblyman is arguing that, after 20 years of Hughes at the helm, it’s time for some new to lead Mercer County.

Hughes, meanwhile, has endorsements from Turner, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing), Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton), and Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), who has a frosty relationship with Benson, his longtime running mate.

A few prominent electeds remain undecided, among them Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell), the only Mercer County legislator who has not publicly endorsed a candidate. Also staying neutral for now are the trio of legislators from the 16th legislative district, which includes Princeton; none of the three live in Mercer County.

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