Conservative Republican Jennifer Williams is seeking to become New Jersey’s first openly transgender state legislator.
Williams, the Trenton GOP municipal chair, is seeking the Republican nomination for State Assembly in the 15th district, where incumbents Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton) and Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell) are seeking re-election.
While Williams would be the first openly transgender person to serve in the Assembly, she would be the fifth nationally.
Hunterdon County Republicans unanimously endorsed Williams on Tuesday, and the Mercer GOP is expected to do the same later this week.
So far, Republicans have just one candidate to run in the heavily Democratic district.
“I’m fully prepared to run my own campaign,” Williams said.
Williams, who attended the 2016 Republican National Convention and a frequent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) attended, declined to get drawn into questions about President Donald Trump.
“I’m looking at my race as a state level race,” Williams said. “That’s what I’m focusing on.”
She acknowledges the uphill battle in a district that has not elected a Republican to the State Assembly since John Hartmann unseated Gerald Naples in 1991.
“I’d like to help build the party, in Trenton and in Mercer County,” Williams told the New Jersey Globe. “I’d like to try to get our numbers up in Hunterdon.”
Williams praised Hunterdon Republican for their high level of organization and electoral success.
“I’m really sensing that there is great energy there,” she said.
As an Assembly candidate, Williams says she is committed to fighting for the city of Trenton.
“As a lifelong resident of Trenton, there are a lot of problems here that are not getting addressed by the legislature,” said Williams, a former Trenton zoning board member. “A lot of people are not happy with the representation they have.”
Williams has launched her campaign website and says she is organizing her fundraising and grassroots team.
Both incumbents entered the legislature last year after winning special election conventions to fill vacant seats.
Jackson-Reynolds won a special election convention last February to replace Elizabeth Muoio (D-Pennington), who became Gov. Phil Murphy’s State Treasurer.
After Reed Gusciora was elected mayor of Trenton in July, Verrelli defeated former Senate Majority executive director Jeff Laurenti by five votes at a special election convention.
Jackson-Reynolds won a November special election, defeating Republican Tracy Sinatra by 31,233 votes (72%-26%). Verrelli defeated Justin Tibbetts by 31,174 votes (72%-25%).