Home>Highlight>16th district Dems have $240k as they prepare to defend open seat

Assemblyman Roy Freiman at Gov. Phil Murphy's fiscal year 2023 budget address. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

16th district Dems have $240k as they prepare to defend open seat

Republicans have several declared or potential candidates, but none have reported raising money

By Joey Fox, January 25 2023 1:13 pm

Democrats in the 16th legislative district have $239,264 on-hand as of the end of 2022, a solid haul as they gear up to defend an open seat in a historically Republican district that has gotten much bluer in recent years.

Of that total, $48,880 is in a joint fundraising account shared by all three incumbent legislators. Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) is the best funded candidate on an individual level with $107,914, while State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) has $65,646 and Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer (D-Montgomery) has $16,825.

Jaffer isn’t seeking re-election this year after just one term in the Assembly, so her small warchest may be redirected towards the joint committee. The contest to determine her successor is still in its early stages, with Central Jersey Democrats currently screening candidates across the district.

Back in 2015, Zwicker became the first Democrat to ever represent the 16th district since its creation when he unseated Assemblywoman Donna Simon (R-Readington) by just 78 votes. He was joined by Freiman two years later; then, in 2021, Zwicker flipped the district’s open Senate seat as Jaffer narrowly won his old seat in the Assembly.

Zwicker’s 2021 Republican opponent, former U.S. Rep. Michael Pappas (R-Branchburg), has announced he’ll seek a rematch this year. Two other Republicans who ran in 2021 – Jeffrey Grant, who lost to Pappas in the Republican Senate primary, and Vinny Panico, who got third place in the general election for the Assembly – have also filed for rematches with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll actually run.

None of Pappas, Grant, or Panico have reported raising any money yet, however. The burden of proof is on Republicans this year to prove that the 16th district can still be competitive after successively losing each of its seats – and the first step will be to raise the kind of money that can keep up with Democrats’ warchest.

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