Home>Campaigns>Mercer GOP picks ’24 slate, but no candidate for county executive

Bucky Boccafuso. (Photo: Bucky Boccafuso).

Mercer GOP picks ’24 slate, but no candidate for county executive

Bucky Boccanfuso seeking rematch with Sheriff Kemler

By David Wildstein, March 17 2023 10:30 pm

Dan Benson might become the Mercer County Executive without facing a primary or general election opponent unless a new candidate shows up before the March 27 filing deadline.

Republicans did not pick a county executive candidate at their convention last night, endorsing  Bryan “Bucky” Boccanfuso for sheriff, Joseph Stillwell, and Denise Turner for county commissioner.

Benson, an assemblyman from Hamilton, has a clear path to the Democratic nomination.  The five-term incumbent, Brian Hughes, dropped his re-election bid three days after Benson defeated him at the Democratic county convention with 78% of the vote.

Mercer County Republicans have not won a countywide election in 23 years.

The  GOP convention was not without compromise.  Jeremy Whaley, the Ewing Republican municipal chairman nominated for county commissioner, was cut off during his convention speech after he began to read a letter of no confidence in the county chair, Lisa Richford.  Richford signaled for Hamilton police officers to remove Whaley from the room after he began to criticize the organization.

Whaley finished a distant third in the voting, receiving just nine votes.

Boccanfuso is seeking a rematch with Jack Kemler, the Democrat who has held the post since 2010.  Three years ago, Kemler defeated Boccanfuso with 70% of the vote.

Republicans picked Roger Locandro to take on eight-term State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence) in the 15th district and Michel Hurtado as the lone Assembly candidate against incumbents Verlina Reynolds-Jackson  (D-Trenton) and Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell).

As expected, the Mercer County GOP line is going to Pat Johnson for State Senate in the 14th district against five-term State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro).  Adam Elias and former Hightstown Councilwoman Skye Gilmartin will take on Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) and Tennille McCoy, a former assistant labor commissioner.  McCoy is seeking Benson’s open seat.

In the 16th district, local Republicans voted to back former Rep. Michael Pappas (R-Branchburg) for a rematch with freshman State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick).  For the Assembly, the line went to Clinton Councilman Ross Traphagen and newcomer Grace Zhang, an accountant from Princeton.

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