This year’s race in the 14th Legislative District is shaping up as one of the most contentious and expensive in the state. The district includes the Mercer County municipalities of Hamilton, East Windsor, Robbinsville, and Plainsboro townships and extends into southern Middlesex County to include Cranbury Township, Hightstown Borough, Jamesburg Borough, Monroe Township, and Spotswood Borough. The 2011 reapportionment removed West Windsor and South Brunswick townships from the district, and Democratic and Republican candidates in the 14th both say they have lost support as a result.
The district is home to large numbers of state employees who once lived in Trenton. Hamilton Township, especially, became a destination for people who left Trenton in great numbers in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The population of Hamilton Township grew steadily during that time and today ranks as the state’s ninth most-populous municipality, with 88,464 residents, according to 2010 census data. According to the 2011 New Jersey Legislative District Data Book, published by Rutgers University’s Center for Government Services, population in the 14th district is growing at more than twice the state average, and voter turnout is consistently high.
Voters in the 14th district have shown their independence in recent elections by giving majorities to John Kerry and President Barack Obama in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections and to Gov. Chris Christie in 2009 against Gov. Jon Corzine. Chris Smith and Rush Holt represent the 4th and 12th Congressional districts, respectively, which share this area of the state. In the 2010 congressional contests, voters here sided with Republicans 58.8 percent to 41.2 percent, according to the Legislative District Data Book.
In recent weeks, according to data from the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, nearly $2 million has flowed from Democratic and Republican political action committees into this race to pay for mailings and advertising on radio and television.
At the top of the race in this district is the contest between state Democratic Sen. Linda Greenstein and Republican former state Sen. Peter A. Inverso. Greenstein won the seat in 2010 in a special election after Gov. Christie appointed then-Sen. Bill Baroni to a seat on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he is deputy executive director. She was elected to her first full state Senate term in 2011 after having served six terms in the New Jersey General Assembly, beginning in January 2000.
Greenstein is assistant Majority Leader of the State Senate and vice chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee and the Environment and Energy Committee. She also serves as a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Joint Committee on the Public Schools.
Greenstein earned a bachelor’s degree at Vassar College, a Master’s in Public Policy at Johns Hopkins University, and her law degree at the Georgetown University Law Center. Before becoming a legislator, she was a senior staff attorney at the Community Health Law Project and served as a deputy attorney general in the Division of Criminal Justice in Trenton and as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia. She also served as a clinical associate professor at Seton Hall Law School.
Greenstein’s full-time focus is on being a legislator. Her husband, Michael, is a mechanical and industrial engineer who teaches at the Polytechnic University of NYU. They have a grown son, who is a lawyer in Baltimore.
Greenstein got started in politics in the early 1990s, when she served on the West-Windsor-Plainsboro Board of Education. She was then elected and reelected to the Plainsboro Township Committee.