Middlesex County Democrats will back incumbent Wayne DeAngelo and Tennille McCoy for State Assembly in the 14th district, with newcomer Rick Carabelli losing by just four votes.
DeAngelo was the top vote-getter with 58 votes, and McCoy defeated Carabelli, 45 to 41.
McCoy is seeking to succeed Dan Benson (D-Hamilton), who is giving up the Assembly seat he’s held since late 2010 to run for Mercer County executive.
That forces Carabelli to run off-the-line in Middlesex while sharing the line in Mercer and makes DeAngelo and McCoy the slight favorites to win the Democratic primary – if Carabelli remains in the race.
Just three days after suffering a stunning third-place finish at his home county convention on Sunday, DeAngelo appears to have salvaged his re-election campaign.
At the Mercer convention, Carabelli (120 votes) and McCoy (111 votes) outpaced his 106 votes. At the same time, he watched the candidate he strongly supported for Mercer County Executive, five-term incumbent Brian Hughes, lose the convention to his political foe and running mate, Benson, by a 78%-22% margin.
But while in most counties, the results would have meant a defeat – two years ago, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) lost the Morris GOP convention by nine votes and then lost the primary – Mercer Democrats allow any candidate who hits the 40% mark at a convention to run in the organization line to run in the primary,
Heading into the convention, DeAngelo was widely viewed as an easy winner, making Benson’s open seat a toss-up between Carabelli and McCoy. But his support for Hughes resulted in Benson supporters in the 14th district sending DeAngelo a message.
One day later, DeAngelo switched his support from Hughes to Benson. Benson endorsed DeAngelo yesterday but didn’t take sides in the race for the second seat. Greenstein and DeAngelo stayed out of the contest to pick their running mate, but McCoy had the support of Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing).
It’s been a wild cycle for DeAngelo, whom Democratic powerbroker George Norcross courted to challenge popular State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) in the Democratic primary. That followed a mysterious poll testing DeAngelo vs. Greenstein; it’s still unclear who paid for it.
McCoy, a former assistant commissioner of the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, lost races for the Hamilton Township Council in 2011 and 2013 and ran briefly for Mercer County Commissioner in 2021 but dropped out before the primary. Carabelli, part of a prominent Hamilton political family, is a political newcomer who has been Franklin Township’s municipal tax assessor since 2009.
Turnout in the June primary will likely be low, especially since the county executive contest between Hughes and Benson ended with Hughes’ withdrawal from the race today.
Mercer County has 61% of the registered Democrats in the district, but the Middlesex portion reliably supports candidates on the organization line.
DeAngelo and McCoy will run on a line in Middlesex headed by Greenstein, including county and local candidates.
The 14th district is a must-win for Republicans to capture majorities in the legislature in Gov. Phil Murphy’s mid-term election. That’s an uphill fight in a district that Murphy won by nine percentage points and Joe Biden by 18 points.
Republicans are running Pat Johnson for Senate, Adam Elias and former Hightstown Councilwoman Skye Gilmartin for Assembly. Elias challenged Greenstein in 2021 but lost by ten points.