College student named district Assembly candidate

President of the College Republicans and junior political science major Brian Hackett was nominated as the GOP candidate on March 28 for Middlesex County’s 14th district State Assembly race. The 14th district is known to be politically competitive and if Hackett wins his bid for a seat he will, at age 21, become New Jersey’s youngest legislator.

“I believe what this state needs is a new perspective on things and bringing in a youthful voice can achieve this . I have a dedication to honesty and public service that is really lacking currently,” Hackett said.

He said experience doesn’t necessarily make for a better politician, pointing out that “Corzine had all that experience on Wall Street and look where it got us.”

However, there was some speculation that Hackett would not remain on the ballot for long. Though voted in as a candidate at the Middlesex Republican Convention on March 28, there were numerous reports the following week that GOP leaders wanted to replace Hackett with 70-year-old Sidna Mitchell, a former newspaper editor who has served as Deputy Executive Director of the state Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) under former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.

Middlesex County Republican Chairman Joe Leo said he did not meet with Mitchell about replacing Hackett and confirmed that he is currently not searching for any replacement.

As of now, Hackett will remain on the ballot.

“Brian can certainly hold his own despite his youth,” Associate Professor of Political Science Miriam Lowi said. Lowi had Hackett in one of her classes during the fall 2008 semester.

Hackett is not a newcomer to politics. He has been involved with politics since the age of 13 and even ran for a spot on his hometown’s school board at 18.

“I plan to pursue this with all of my effort,” Hackett said. He intends to work hard between now and November and urges students to stay tuned on upcoming political events.

Currently, the youngest state legislator was Peter Shapiro in 1975 who unseated Assemblyman Rocco Neri in Essex County at the age of 23.

Brianna Gunter can be reached at gunter2@tcnj.edu.