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Assembly Race: Legislative District 20

This time around, the incumbent Democrats at least have an opponent.

In the heavily Democratic 20th District, a lone Republican is going up against two incumbent Democrats in the Assembly.

If history repeats, Assembly members Joseph Cryan and Annette Quijano won’t have too much to worry about on Tuesday.

Cryan is a Union County political powerhouse. An undersheriff in Union, Cryan has been an assemblyman since 2002 and currently is the majority leader.

He is running against Gov. Christie’s cuts in the 20th, including those to education and seniors. “I think we need to have a more direct voice in standing up to the governor,” he said. “A voice in Trenton for the 20th District to stand up to the governor is important.”

Even though the 20th is a Democratic district, Cryan has pursued an aggressive campaign. “We walk door to door, we’ve got brochures. It’s a standard meet the people campaign,” he said.

Quijano took office as the first Latina Assemblywoman in 2008.

“She’s popular and very non-divisive,” said Margaret DeVico, Quijano’s chief of staff. “She’s very unifying and doesn’t take sides on petty things.”

Quijano serves as chair of the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee. The major issues on which she is focusing are the economy and unemployment. She is working to pass legislation to increase penalties for those who talk or text without a handheld device while driving.

The assemblywoman is also proud of an urban garden cooperative she helped establish with the United Way, called Come Grow With Us, said DeVico.

The only Republican candidate is John F. Donoso, a financial vice president at JP Morgan Chase and member of the Elizabeth Board of Education. He was unavailable to comment.

Fielding even one candidate is better than the GOP has done recently. In the last two elections, Democratic candidates for the Assembly have not faced any opposition from the Republicans.

Matthew Kassel is a freelance writer focusing mainly on politics and culture. He is an editorial assistant at Community News Service, a local newspaper group in Mercer County.

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