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Somerset County Chairwoman Peg Schaffer thinks State Sen. Kip Bateman’s seat is ripe for the taking.
“The fact that we almost won with our candidate — she had almost no support except support she got from the county — she didn’t get support from Trenton, and she lost by 600 votes,” Schaffer said. “I think, clearly, he should give some serious thought to his next career, so I do think he’s vulnerable.”
In 2017, Hillsborough attorney Laurie Poppe lost to Bateman by less than a point. Bateman easily won the seat in 2013, beating Christian Mastondrea by just over 40 points.
The district is one of only two in the state that has split representation.
Assemblymen Roy Freiman and Andrew Zwicker, both Democrats, hold the district’s seat in the lower chamber.
Zwicker won his first term in 2015, when he ousted incumbent Assemblywoman Donna Simon by a mere 78 votes. He won re-election in 2017 by roughly 4,500 votes.
That year, Freiman won his first term with a slightly-slimmer margin of about 3,000 votes.
Schaffer said that either of the two Assembly incumbents would have a shot at Bateman’s Senate seat if they wanted it, though they’ll have to hold onto their seats this year before thinking about moving to the legislature’s upper chamber.
“Andrew and Roy are both doing a great job, and they’re going to help. Here’s what happens: If Andrew wants to run or Roy wants to run, they’re going to have first dibs,” Schaffer said. “I think Laurie’s interested in running again too. She may well run for Assembly. We’re excited about that. All I’m focused on right now is 2019 because we win the county this year if we do it right.”