A likely bid by Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton) for Mercer County Executive next year could open up an Assembly seat in the 14th district for the first time since 2010.
The leading candidate could wind up being John Cimino, a Mercer County Commissioner since 2009 and the son of former Assemblyman Anthony (Skip) Cimino (D-Hamilton).
East Winsor Mayor Janice Mironov, the Mercer County Democratic chair, could also emerge as an Assembly candidate. Mironov has been mayor of 26 years but has long been interested in serving in the legislature; she ran for the Assembly in 1987, 1993 and 1997.
Middlesex has the Senate seat – Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) intends to seek re-election – and historically, Democrats have given both Assembly seat to Mercer.
The potential three-way Democratic contest for county executive between five-term incumbent Brian Hughes, former Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer, and Benson could complicate the June primary if two or more candidates take the race beyond the convention and directly to the voters.
Benson is expected to announce his candidacy in December.
The other assemblyman from the 14th, Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), is no fan of Benson; this could be among the most toxic relationships between running mates in the state. Hughes is announcing his candidacy for a sixth term from the union hall of the IBEW local DeAngelo runs.
If the county executive contest makes it to the primary, it could mean the recruitment of Assembly candidates in the 14th, including a primary for DeAngelo, who won his first term in the Assembly in 2007 and serves as president of the Mercer/Burlington Counties Building Trades.
Mironov declined to comment on the 14th district race.
“Mercer is still focused on counting all votes from the November 8 election and sorting out important Trenton December 6 municipal runoff elections,” she said. “Mercer Democrats have broad participatory convention process wherein committee members and elected officials will make decisions about which candidates to support.”
If all county committee seats are filled before the winter Democratic convention, Hamilton has 128 seats, followed by East Windsor (32), Robbinsville (18) and Hightstown (8). That tally does not include at-large convention delegates named by the county chair.
Cimino’s county commissioner seat is also up next year; so are Commissioner Lucylle Walter, who has been in office since 1998, County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello, and Sheriff Jack Kemler.
Republicans must compete in the 14th district if they are to have a path to taking control of the legislature next year.