HAMILTON: Greenstein claims victory

Incumbents win by narrow margin

by Jen Samuel and James McEvoy, Packet Media Group
HAMILTON — On Tuesday three Democratic incumbents won their re-election bids for the 14th legislative district.
   In a close race, Sen. Linda Greenstein, of Plainsboro, outflanked her Republican opponent, Peter Inverso, of Hamilton, by 1,240 votes, according to unofficial election results.
   ”I do stand up for my beliefs,” Sen. Greenstein said.
   A resident of New Jersey since 1988, Sen. Greenstein said her focus moving forward will be on the economy, jobs and taxes. She serves on the senate’s Budget and Appropriations Committee.
   The 14th District includes the towns of Cranbury, East Windsor, Hamilton, Hightstown, Jamesburg, Monroe, Plainsboro, Robbinsville and Spotswood.
   ”It’s disappointing obviously,” Mr. Inverso said Nov. 5 after the election results were announced. His campaign was gathered at the Princeton Manor Banquet on Route 33 in Hamilton.
   In Mercer County, Sen. Greenstein received 19,101 votes, or 49.53 percent. According to the unofficial election results, Republican Peter Inverso fell short by 391 votes. He received 18,710 votes, or 48.51 percent. Five people wrote in personal choices.
   According to the unofficial results from Middlesex County, Sen. Greenstein garnered 11,898 votes, winning 51.28 percent. Mr. Inverso received 11,049 votes or 47.62 percent. He lost by 849 votes.
   In all, according to the official results of both counties, Sen. Greenstein won 30,999 votes and Mr. Inverso received 29,759 votes.
   ”I want to thank the people that did support me,” Mr. Inverso said. “It was gratifying to know that many of them remembered my service and felt that I could continue to lead effectively.”
   Libertarian candidate Don DeZarn, of East Windsor, received 251 votes, or 1.08 percent, for the 14th District in Middlesex. He received in Mercer County 750 votes, or 1.94 percent.
   Approximately 300 people, supporters of Mercer County Democrats, mingled at The Stone Terrace by John Henry while awaiting the Nov. 5 election results.
   Around 9 p.m., Liz Muoio, the chair of the Mercer County Democratic Committee, said Sen. Greenstein and Mr. Inverso were essentially tied.
   When news finally reached the ballroom that Assemblymen Wayne DeAngelo and Daniel Benson won their bids for re-election, cheers erupted. However much of the crowd had dispersed by then, as the night drew past 10 p.m.
   ”We’ve been doing this fight for years,” Assemblyman DeAngelo stated. “It’s time to get back to work.”
   Assemblyman Benson thanked his family and veterans and labor and private sector supports. “A grassroots campaign can win time and time again,” he said.
   When Sen. Greenstein entered the ballroom near 11 p.m., a large round of applause picked up again. Supporters commended her resolve, asked for photographs and exchanged hugs.
   Elected to her first four-year term to the state Senate, Ms. Greenstein apologized for arriving late, adding she wanted to know the results prior to leaving her campaign headquarters on Route 33.
   She thanked everyone present, including her husband, son, and many cousins gathered to support her. She also thanked the unions, “who are absolutely the best.”
   The senator decried third party attacks as “untrue.”
   Of America Sen. Greenstein said, “We need to move (in) a positive direction.”
   The senator told Packet Media Group she was excited to be given the chance by voters to serve a full-term over the next four years.
   As the largest town in her district, Sen. Greenstein said she would focus on taxpayer issues in Hamilton while supporting its middle class.
   In Monroe Sen. Greenstein said she would pursue state aid to help seniors.
   In terms of the district winning team, composed of herself, Assemblymen Benson and DeAngelo, she said they stood for a robust middle class, the taxpayers, organized labor and seniors.
   Elsewhere in Hamilton, Mr. Inverso offered another view.
   ”What I find particularly appalling is the type of campaign that was waged against me. I think Linda Greenstein should not hold her head high for the kind of campaign she waged,” he said. “It was an embarrassing campaign that lowered negative campaigning to new depths.”
   Mr. Inverso said his camp ran a very positive campaign.
   ”I can hold my head high in this community,” he added. “I’m not sure my opponent can.”
   Yet Sen. Greenstein’s supporters were many in number at The Stone Terrace on Tuesday evening.
   ”I’ve been supportive of her since the first day she ran,” said Kathleen Lord, who formerly sat on the Hamilton school board. Prior to the senate race being declared for Sen. Greenstein, Ms. Lord predicted she would be triumphant. “She’s going to come up on top.”
   ”I think she’s a genuine, caring person,” said Maria DeAngelo, Assemblyman DeAngelo’s mother, of Sen. Greenstein.
   Ms. DeAngelo joined her son at The Stone Terrace as he won his re-election bid to keep his seat. “I’m very proud of him,” she said. “He’s always been there for the public.”
   In Middlesex, Assemblyman DeAngelo won 11,240 votes, or 25.78 percent, according to unofficial results. Assemblyman Benson won 10,851 votes, or 24.89 percent.
   The Republicans came up short, but just barely in Middlesex. Republican Ronald Haas received 10,153 votes, or 23.29 percent. Challenger Steve Cook received 10,854 votes, or 24.90 percent.
   With two Libertarian candidates also on the Middlesex ballot, Sean O’Connor received 266 votes and Steven Curio received 224 votes.
   In Middlesex County there were 176,002 ballots cast and a 36.98 percent voter turnout.
   In Mercer County, Assemblyman DeAngelo won 20,437 votes, or 27.43 percent. Assemblyman Benson won 19,788 votes, or 26.56 percent.
   The incumbents’ Republican challengers came up short in Mercer County, with Mr. Cook receiving 17,146 votes, or 23 percent. Mr. Haas received 15,958 or 21.42 percent.
   On the Libertarian ticket for the state Assembly, Mr. O’Connor received 622 votes or .83 percent. Mr. Uccio received 548 votes or .74 percent.
   In Mercer County unofficial results found that Nov. 5 brought out 40.33 percent of voters, equating to 88,559 people participating in the general election. An additional 6,323 people voted by mail-in ballot.
   The district is home to a large number of retirees and state workers, resulting in a population makeup unlike that of the other 39 legislative districts, as previously reported by Packet Media Group.
   In 2011 Sen. Greenstein defeated Republican Rich Kanka in the 14th District race for the state Senate.
   In 2010 she won a special election for the 14th District senate seat, vacated by Bill Baroni, against Tom Goodwin.
   Previously, she won six terms in the state Assembly representing the 14th District from 2000 until the special election in 2010.
   While a state assemblywoman, she served as the deputy speaker from 2006 to 2010 and as assistant majority leader from 2002 to 2005. She was a member of the Plainsboro Township Committee from 1995 to 2000. Sen. Greenstein also sat on the West Windsor-Plainsboro Board of Education from 1992 to 1994.
   Her opponent in this year’s election, Mr. Inverso, represented the 14th District as a New Jersey state senator from 1992 to 2008.
   ”I don’t know whether elective office is something I’ll aspire to going forward,” Mr. Inverso said. “I kind of need to let the dust settle to see where I’m going. I’ve got a great family, it may be time to smell the roses.”
   On Tuesday Sen. Greenstein told Packet Media Group that when she sees that something is unjust, she stands up against it.
   The New Jersey state senator grew up in a blue collar community of New York City. Sen. Greenstein’s father worked at a local supermarket and her mother was a bookkeeper.
   ”I’m not going to back down,” she said.