The campaign of the genuine renaissance man has ended.
Dr. Chris Fistonich, a Yale-educated PhD immunologist, cybersecurity analyst and opera singer, has announced his withdrawal from the race for the Democratic State Assembly nomination in the 16th legislative district.
The move likely clears the path for Dr. Sadaf Jaffer, a former mayor of Montgomery, to become the Democratic nominee for an open seat in a district that leans Democratic.
“It has been an extraordinary ride, and I am so extremely grateful for all of your support. We came in never having been elected before, earning significant numbers of votes at endorsement meetings around the district,” Fistonich said. “We focused hard on the issues and pushed the race in a direction I am quite proud of.”
The first-time candidate had complained that the ballots in his race appeared to be counted before any votes had been cast. That occurred after Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer endorses Jaffer, who won organization lines in Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Mercer counties.
Running with Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough), Jaffer is seeking the Assembly seat Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) is giving up in his bid to flip a Somerset-based State Senate seat that Democrats haven’t won since 1902.
State Sen. Kip Bateman (R-Branchburg) announced in January that he would not seek re-election to a fifth term this year. Zwicker will likely face Republican Michael Pappas, a former congressman.
Once a GOP stronghold, Zwicker ousted an Assembly incumbent in 2015 and Freiman won the second seat in 2017 after the Republican incumbent, Jack Ciattarelli, gave it up to run for governor.
Joe Biden carried the 16th district by 28,165 votes, 61%-38%.
Fistonich appears ready to run again for something down the road.
“Serving you is a privilege I hope to one day do in an official capacity in our state government,” Fistonich said. “Until then, I will keep fighting for progressive issues on the ground in every way I can.”