May 30, 2024

Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo warmed a crowd inside IBEW 269 headquarters recently as several hundred people awaited the arrival of County Executive Brian Hughes.

Hughes, seeking a sixth term, although this time around opposite rivals for the Democrat nomination, entered after DeAngelo’s opening remarks.

DeAngelo (D-14), president of the Mercer County Building and Construction Trades, lauded Hughes as a friend of union workers then offered an assessment of Mercer County politics.

“(Many) Democrats and Republicans are way out here (meaning far left and far right) and then there’s everybody else in the middle. We’ve gotta, kinda make sure our voices are heard…..that our fights come to the forefront and we can make sure we grow Mercer County together,” trolled DeAngelo.

As middle-class middle man, DeAngelo received rousing applause. His remarks described a kind of new Mercer County Democrat, not too far left, and certainly not right. Hughes followed DeAngelo’s moderate lead, as he described a kind of Goldilocks political porridge.

“I believe, like Wayne said, that there’s a middle ground, that people can all agree on. And that is, fixing roads, making sure our bridges work, making sure snow is removed along County highways and byways,” Hughes explained.

The county executive eventually pitched a middle-of-the-road agenda as this new Mercer County Democrat image formed.

“I believe (voters) are looking for government who can move us forward, not just on the MAGA end or the extreme Democratic end — but in the middle. To make sure we have a government that works for all of us.”

Standing in the midst of such political blasphemy triggered realization — this is not our parents Democratic Party which placed people ahead of roads, snow removal and bridge construction.

This new Democratic Party being brewed detaches from a party that emphasized, social equality and equal opportunity. With voting rights, a hallmark of Democrat concern; with women’s rights to determine their right of choice being deteriorated; with minority rights, including LGBTQ rights being challenged; the party that passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 rejoiced in precipitation removal and macadam.

Government should work for all, although if the topic connects to the Democratic Party, its mission demands a press for equality, a fair distribution of power, personal responsibility, employment opportunity and livable wages, plus, initiatives that uplift down-ladder residents.

Leaders of 12 local municipalities should understand that Trenton remains key for moving Mercer County forward. As long as the capital city labors in poverty, crime, ignorance, healthcare inequality, places no real emphasis on education and locks out women and minorities from trade unions, Mercer County will falter.

Former Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer discounted notions that the city exists as a drag on county progress.

“It’s the state capital. It’s only a drag if there’s no investment in people and economic development which hasn’t happened, Palmer, a Democrat who created a partnership with former Republican County Executive Bob Prunetti. The odd couple built an arena, ballpark and hotel. Palmer, who formed an exploratory committee and announced an interest in a county executive run, sounded a Democratic theme, and not only for Trenton.

“How about economic opportunities for small businesses in this county and in providing incubator funds to make that happen. How about investing in people. I mean, we’re the Capital county. We should be able to leverage more from the state government. We need a partnership with the state government — that they will provide the hundreds of million dollars which they have done in other counties.

“A strong relationship with the county executive, a visionary who can bring people together and put forth an agenda focusing on real jobs, real job training, employment opportunities, real education, securing open space, creating opportunity for private businesses to come into this county, especially in the City of Trenton to create the jobs that are necessary.”

Palmer chuffed Democratic themes although obvious pushback would challenge that his party has wasted extraordinary amounts of money on urban areas and programs that never delivered success.

This evolution of some Mercer County Democratic Party members demands fiscal responsibility, recycling collection and a commitment to infrastructure repair.

Mercer County Executive Hughes and Gov. Phil Murphy should construct bridges to Trenton.

Trenton needs Mercer County support, welcomes old-fashion Democrat ideals that uplift.

It’s either a Democrat adage or should be — a riding tide lifts all boats.

L.A. Parker is a Trentonian columnist. Find him on Twitter @LAParker6 or email him at

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