Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton) has notched a third big labor endorsement in his Democratic primary challenge against Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) giving their support to the six-term legislator today.
“In Trenton, Dan Benson consistently stands alongside our members,” CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor said in a statement. “So we proudly stand alongside Dan Benson in his bid to become county executive. With Dan at the helm, Mercer – and the region – can best reach its full potential for everyone who lives and works there.”
Benson is regarded as one of New Jersey’s most progressive legislators and CWA is probably its most progressive major union, so the endorsement is not hugely surprising. But it’s still a blow to Hughes, who is seeking a sixth term leading a county that includes Trenton and Princeton.
The Laborers’ International Union of North America endorsed Benson last week, and Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 9 was on his initial list of supporters; a set of nine important building trades unions, meanwhile, is backing Hughes.
Both candidates have also released dueling lists of endorsements from Mercer County politicians. Hughes has some of the county’s biggest names in his corner, including Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) and State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence), while Benson has a wider array of support from local and county officials.
Both Benson and Hughes have pledged to continue their campaigns even if they don’t get the Democratic Party’s endorsement at the county convention – and thanks to a Mercer Democratic rule allowing candidates to appear in the organization column if they get just 40% of the convention vote, the contest may be a slugfest all the way to the June primary.
This story was updated at 10:42 a.m. with a correction: Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 9 is also backing Benson.