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Mercer County Freeholder Anthony Verrelli

Labor makes push for Muoio seat

By David Wildstein, January 22 2018 11:47 am

A Mercer County Freeholder whose real political might stems from his day-job as the president of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters Local 254, has entered the race for State Assembly in the 15th egislative district.

Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell) will seek votes at a special election convention for the seat of Assemblywoman Liz Muoio (D-Pennington).  Gov. Phil Murphy has nominated Muoio to serve as State Treasurer, and she resign from the legislature if the New Jersey Senate confirms her.

Democrats are having a tough time settling in on a replacement for Muio, a former Mercer County Democratic Chairwoman.   Democrats – particularly in Mercer – have struggled between building the future of their party around progressive activists or representatives of the working class.  Some argue that Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Trenton) holds the progressive seat, although the two Assembly members have nearly identical voting records.

Organized labor has made a concerted effort to recruit union members to run for office for the last twenty years.   An ironworker and union official now serves as the Senate President, and the Assembly Democratic caucus includes longtime union officials like Thomas Giblin (D-Montclair) of the Operating Engineers and Joseph Egan (D-New Brunswick) and Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), both International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers leaders.

The key decision-maker here is Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, whose endorsement will sway a large block of County Committee members – many of whom happen to be county employees.

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