Replacing Greenstein

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Trenton DomeDemocrat legislators Linda Greenstein and Bonnie Watson Coleman are taking chunks out of each other at the moment, Save Jerseyans, battling to replace the retiring Rush Holt in CD12. There’s other candidates in the mix, too, but early shows of strength suggest they’re the leaders. Some say Greenstein has the edge.

If that’s true, and Greenstein ultimately prevails in November, then her LD14 State Senate seat could be open for the first time since Bill Baroni left it for the port authority (which in retrospect seems like a less-than-great decision, right?).

Speculation is fun even when it’s temporarily idle. Here are some of the leading GOP prospects for an open seat according to the folks who keep tabs on such things…

Kelly Yaede

Hamilton Mayor Kelly Yaede (profile)If she wanted it, Hamilton Township Mayor Kelly Yaede would be the clear frontrunner for the GOP nomination in a special election against Wayne DeAngelo, a Democrat with considerable labor juice in a district dominated by state workers. “If” remains the operative word. Many folks in-the-know suggest she’s content to continue serving as chief executive of the district’s largest community, one for which she assumed the reins after her Republican predecessor fell to a corruption investigation. She’d have to take a considerable pay cut; township council recently raised her salary to $113,678 while state senators gross just $49,000.

Steve Cook

CookChief of Staff for former state Senator Peter Inverso, Cook stood unsuccessfully as a State Assembly candidate on his old employer’s ticket last fall. He’s from Hamilton Township which is ordinarily a plus in terms of organization (see above) and he clearly has a strong network throughout the district given his many years working on the governmental end and working LD14 campaigns. Word on the street is that he’d consider another legislative bid.

Alieta Eck

Dr. EckDr. Eck is currently the presumptive GOP nominee in CD12. A few early indicators suggest we could be in store for another positive Republican federal cycle, but deeply-blue CD12 is a D+14 district; anyone with an ‘R’ at the end of his or her surname faces an uphill battle. Assuming Dr. Eck comes up a short but performs strongly in the race for Congress, I’m told Republicans inside LD14 hope she’d consider competing in a hypothetical special election to replace Greenstein.

Ileana Schirmer

Ileana Shirmer email - CopyA little bit of a wild card but one who frequently came up in my conversations, Councilwoman Schirmer is a former successful business owner who was appointed to Hamilton’s township council to replace Mayor Yaede. Did I mention that she’s fluent in Spanish? Not too shabby, and definitely the kind of profile that attracts attention from Republicans up the chain of command (assuming we still have one by then).