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Mercer County Freeholder Anthony Verrelli. (Photo by Nikita Biryukov)

Dems have big cash advantage in 15th

Two separate races for Assembly in special elections

By David Wildstein, October 21 2018 12:54 pm

Two Democratic incumbents running in separate special elections for the New Jersey State Assembly in the 15th district have substantial cash advantages going into the final two weeks of the general election campaign

Assemblywoman Verlina Jackson-Reynolds (D-Trenton) has raised $13,550 and has $7,768 cash-on-hand, according to a report she filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.  Her Republican opponent, Tracy Sinatra, has raised $1,656 and has $706 remaining in her campaign account.  An independent candidate for that seat, Edward “NJWeedman” Forchion, has not reported raising any money.

In the second Assembly race, incumbent Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell) has raised $75,902, including funds he transferred from another campaign account, and has $67,654 in his warchest.  Republican Justin Tibbetts has raised $4,275 and has $2,960 cash on hand.

Also running against Verrelli is Alex Bethea, a former Trenton City Councilman who finished sixth in a field of seven candidates for mayor in the May 2018 election with just 572 votes.  Bethea has raised $3,961, most of it transferred from his mayoral campaign, and has $3,193 cash-on-hand.

Democrats also have a huge edge in voter registration in the Mercer County-based district that includes Trenton and three small towns in Hunterdon County: the 15th has 62,712 Democrats 18,282 Republicans, and 52,688 unaffiliated voters.

Republicans have not won an Assembly race in the 15th since 1991, when 24-year-old John Hartmann ousted five-term Democrat Gerald Naples in a Republican wave election sparked by opposition to Gov. Jim Florio’s $2.8 billion tax increase.

There are two individual elections, not the usual one where voters can split their tickets, since the two incumbents are seeking the unexpired terms of two individual legislators.

Jackson-Reynolds won a special election last February to replace Elizabeth Muoio, who became Gov. Phil Murphy’s State Treasurer.  After Reed Gusciora was elected mayor of Trenton in July, Verrelli went to the Assembly after defeating former Senate Majority executive director Jeff Laurenti by five votes.

The winners of the special election will serve the remaining 14 months of the current term and must seek re-election in 2019.

Reynolds served as a Trenton City Councilwoman and Mercer County Democratic Chair before her election to the Assembly.  Verrelli, a leader in the Carpenters union, was a Mercer County Freeholder.

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