Congressional District 12 Candidates Gear Up for Primary Day

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

“I really believe that I’m gonna win on Tuesday,” said Bonnie Watson Coleman.

She campaigned at an adult medical day care center this morning.

“I can bring people here with applications for you to be able to vote while you’re here in your program,” Watson Coleman said.

“I think that I’m the front-runner. I think there’s another front-runner,” said Linda Greenstein.

Greenstein thinks her chances Tuesday are pretty good.

“I’m Linda Greenstein and I approved this message. Because it’s time to get Congress working for all of us,” she says in a campaign ad.

The third Democratic legislator in the race is Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula.

“One thing people are not looking at is the Asian-American vote. And they’re not traditionally voting in the primaries and they gonna come out for me,” Chivukula said.

The three are running to succeed Rush Holt, who is retiring.

A fourth candidate in the race is Princeton physicist Andrew Zwicker.

“Bonnie Watson Coleman, the best progressive record, the best choice to put a strong progressive in Congress,” says Watson Coleman’s ad.

Since the three legislators are all seen as progressive Democrats, we wondered what differentiates them.

“I think the difference is that I’ve been rather outspoken person, I’ve taken leadership on issues before they became the cause of the day. I did the whole criminal justice reform initiative before the book came out, The New Jim Crow,” Watson Coleman said.

“I respond to that that I speak when I have something to say,” said Greenstein.

Greenstein said it has more to do with one’s resume.

“You first have to look at the background of the person. I bring a strong educational background, the same way as Rush Holt did. I also bring a broad background whether it’s in the jobs I’ve had, the places I’ve lived,” Greenstein said.

“I came from a country where from the day you’re born to the day you die, you are told your place,” says an ad.

Chivikula and Greenstein said the race is about who can best carry on Rush Holt’s work.

“He’s a scientist. There are only two scientists in Congress, only 3 engineers in congress. Being an engineer and a scientist I’m positioned to take his place,” Chivukula said.

The 12th congressional district includes most of Mercer and Middlesex counties, some of Somerset and Union.

The party organizations there are backing their home-county person — Mercer for Watson-Coleman, Middlesex for Greenstein and Somerset for Chivukula. Union’s chairman endorsed Watson Coleman.

Greenstein today talked about her work in the legislature.

“What’s most important is what you do in there and where you’ve led,” she said.

“I don’t believe that you can lead just by legislating. I think you’ve gotta lead with a voice,” said Watson Coleman.

It’s the fight for the heart of Democratic Central Jersey and it culminates Tuesday.