As Republicans work to expand their minority in the New Jersey Legislature and possibly even turn it into a majority, one place where they’ll need to run a strong campaign this year is the 14th legislative district, a Democratic-leaning district based in the suburbs of Mercer and Middlesex Counties.
And it looks like they may have settled on their Senate candidate: Patricia Johnson, a medical professional who previously ran for the Assembly in 2021. Johnson, who would face State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) in the general election, currently does not face any opponents for the Republican nomination, and none are expected to get in the race.
“I feel that the people need somebody they can trust,” Johnson told the New Jersey Globe this morning. “I see the need to have people involved [in politics] who care about the people – what they think, what they need, and what they want.”
Johnson is a native of Hamilton Township, which is by far the biggest town in the heavily suburban district. She lived in Lawrence Township in 2021, when she ran for the 15th legislative district, but has since moved back to her hometown.
Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho (R-Franklin) and Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown) are cohosting a fundraiser for Johnson in February, an indication that Johnson’s race will be a priority for Republican legislative leadership this year.
“People have gotten to know me, they know what I stand for,” Johnson said of her ability to wage a well-funded and serious campaign. “The party understands who I am and what I need. And I believe between the two, we will get what we need to run this campaign appropriately.”
The 14th district leans towards Democrats in most races; Greenstein won her 2021 contest 55%-45% against an underfunded opponent, and the district did not change significantly on the state’s new legislative map. Republicans also have a thin bench of local officials in the district, meaning that the party has to rely on political outsiders like Johnson.
But it’s widely acknowledged that if Republicans were to ever regain a majority in either chamber of the legislature, the 14th district – which was last represented by a Republican in 2010 – would probably be part of that majority. That increases the stakes in the district this year, even though other competitive districts are likely to garner more attention and fundraising.
Republicans also have an opportunity this year that they haven’t had in recent cycles: an open seat. Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton) is departing to run for Mercer County Executive, and Democrats have yet to settle on a new candidate to run alongside Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton).
Mercer Democratic Chair and East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov is a possibility, though Hamilton Democrats may push to retain two seats in the Assembly; if they do, Hamilton Councilman Anthony Carabelli could run for the seat. Mercer County Commissioner John Cimino, initially viewed as the frontrunner for the seat, is now seen as more likely to run for re-election to the board of county commissioners instead.
Republicans, meanwhile, are also still working on putting together an Assembly slate. One potential candidate is Adam Elias, the 2021 Senate nominee who lost to Greenstein.