New Jersey

Mercer GOP picks slate ’24, but no county executive nominee

Dan Benson could become Mercer County executive without facing an opponent in the primary or general election unless a new candidate emerges before the March 27 nomination deadline.

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

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

Mercer County Republicans haven’t won a countywide election in 23 years.

The GOP convention was not without compromise. Jeremy Whaley, Ewing’s Republican City Chairman appointed County Commissioner, was cut off during his speech at the convention after he began reading a letter of no confidence to County Chairman Lisa Richford. Richford motioned for Hamilton police to remove Whaley from the room after he began to criticize the organization.

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

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

Republicans chose Roger Locandro to face State Senator Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence) for eight terms in the 15th District and Michael Hurtado as the only candidate for Assembly against incumbents Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton) and Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell).

As expected, the Mercer County GOP line goes to Pat Johnson for the state Senate in the 14th District against five-term Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro). Adam Elias and former Hightstown councilor Skye Gilmartin will face MP Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) and Tennille McCoy, a former deputy labor commissioner. McCoy looks for Benson’s free seat.

In the 16th District, local Republicans voted to back former Rep. Michael Pappas (R-Branchburg) for a rematch with freshman 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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