Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton)’s new bid for Mercer County executive received a slew of endorsements today from county commissioners to municipal leaders, putting Benson in a strong position in the Democratic primary against incumbent Bryan position for five terms. Hughes.

Benson’s endorsers include seven current or future county officials — Sheriff Jack Kemmler and Commissioners John Cimino, Sam Frisby, Kathleen Lewis, Christine McLaughlin, Nina Melker and Lucille Walter — as well as six mayors, nine Democratic municipal chairmen and dozens of council members. spread across 12 municipalities in Mercer County.

“I’m running for Mercer County Executive to move our county forward and lead an effective administration that promotes new ideas and thoughtful innovation,” Benson said of his campaign, which he officially launched today after soft start on Monday. “With the right leadership, we can take advantage of these opportunities and create a county government that works for all of us.”

Hughes introduced his own list of initial approvals on Monday, including Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) and three state lawmakers: state Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence), Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton) and Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton ), who is Benson’s running mate in the 14th Legislative District. Paul County Clerk Solami Covela, County Commissioner Terence Stokes and County Commissioner Andrew Kuntz are also in Hughes’ corner.

But while some of Mercer County’s most prominent politicians are backing Hughes, the depth and breadth of Benson’s support will be hard to match at the county’s Democratic convention.

Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin and three of the township’s five council members, one of whom is also the municipal Democratic chairman, have endorsed Benson, a former Hamilton councilman. Their support suggests that the largest city in the county will largely support its hometown legislator at the county convention.

Notably, Plumbers Local 9 business manager Michael Maloney is also listed as a Hamilton Benson endorser. DeAngelo, who has a frosty relationship with Benson, is president of the Mercer/Burlington Counties Chamber of Commerce, but Maloney’s endorsement of Benson suggests that organized labor will not unequivocally support Hughes.

In Hughes’ hometown of Princeton, Benson ran the table with endorsements from the mayor, all six council members, the municipal Democratic chairman and the head of the local Democratic Club. Benson also received significant support from Lawrence and Ewing, the political bases of Turner and Watson Coleman, respectively.

Although he announced his campaign Monday alongside former Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer (who is briefly reviewed himself ran for the post of district head), Benson’s support in the capital was comparatively meager. City Council-elect Tesco Frisby, daughter-in-law of Benson’s campaign chairman Jeanine Frisby LaRue, supports Benson, but Mayor Reed Gucioro and most other local officials have so far remained neutral.

Besides Guschiori, there are several other prominent Mercer County Democratic politicians who are apparently still unsolicited, including Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell), Ewing Mayor Burt Steinman and East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironova, who is also chairman of the district democratic organization.

However, Mironov’s neutrality should not be exaggerated. Six council members and the city’s Democratic municipal vice-chairman endorsed Benson, something they wouldn’t have done without Mironov’s approval.

Benson has vowed to make an offline bid if he loses the convention; it is unclear whether Hughes would have done the same. Due to a provision in the Mercer Democrats bylaws, if a candidate receives 40% support at the Mercer Democrats convention, they can appear in the organization column even without an organization slogan.

Whoever ends up winning the nomination could face a more prominent Republican opponent than Mercer’s Democrats are used to: Andrei Sidamon-Eristof, a former state treasurer who once served on the New York City Council. Mercer County is heavily Democratic, but if Sidamon-Eristoff decides to enter the race, he could try to use the divisiveness of local Democrats to his advantage.

Confirmation by Benson

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