Bonnie Watson Coleman of Ewing won the 12th District Democratic primary race to replace U.S. Rep. Rush Holt last night, and will become New Jersey’s first female member of Congress in more than a decade if she wins the general election in November.
Watson Coleman defeated state Sen. Linda Greenstein, state Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula and scientist Andrew Zwicker in the Democratic primary in the heavily Democratic district. Physician Alieta Eck was unopposed in the Republican primary.
In Mercer County, Watson Coleman received 64 percent of the vote. Greenstein received 17 percent of the vote. Chivukula and Andrew each received just under 10 percent of the vote.
Watson Coleman was able to drive out the vote in Mercer County, beating Greenstein by 8,000 votes. Greenstein won Middlesex County by nearly 6,000 votes, but Middlesex had the lightest turnout of the four counties in the district — 11 percent, compared to 20 percent in Mercer.
At a victory celebration last night, Watson Coleman called her opponents in the primary race honorable people who believe in the same things she believes in. “That’s the message I want to tell Democrats,” she said. “We are a united front. We are different from Republicans.”
Coleman said her priorities for Congress would be immigration reform, women’s rights, gun control and public education.
Holt released a brief statement after the primary results were in.
“We’ve been fortunate in this election to have a field of thoughtful Democratic candidates who have run really good campaigns,” Holt said. “I look forward to talking with voters about Bonnie Watson Coleman, who I’m confident will be a fierce advocate for progressive issues in Washington as she has been in the Legislature. I’ve said before that I believe Congress, despite all its frustrations, is the world’s greatest instrument for justice and human welfare. That’s still true now, and tonight gives me confidence that it will remain true for a long time to come.”
In Princeton, Watson Coleman was the top vote getter with 1,310 votes. Zwicker came in second with 660 votes. Greenstein came in third with 459 votes, and Chivukula had 288 votes.
Zwicker said it was an honor seeking the Democratic nomination.
“Along the way, during this campaign, I have met so many wonderful people actively engaged in change — people who believe it is worth the effort to work for a better future,” he said. “They will forever inspire me. I congratulate Bonnie Watson Coleman with best wishes for success. I am grateful to my family, my friends, and everyone who worked tirelessly to support me in this race.”