Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) will not be a candidate for State Senate in the 16th legislative district and instead will seek a third term in the Assembly.
Freiman had been considered a potential contender for the seat of State Sen. Christopher Bateman (R-Branchburg), who announced last month that he would not be a candidate for re-election to a fifth term this year.
“Throughout my four years as an Assemblyman representing the 16th Legislative District, I have been continually motivated to improve the way we do things in Trenton: to end partisanship, to act more fiscally responsible, to listen to all points of view and to try new approaches rather than repeating missteps,” Freiman said. “Keeping these goals in mind, I have been earnest in serving my constituents and the state. Today I am announcing my reelection campaign for the Assembly in November 2021 so that I can continue to push forward strategies to improve and unite our state.”
That leaves Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) and Hillsborough attorney Laurie Poppe, who came within 574 votes of unseating Bateman in 2017, as the lone announced candidates.
Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer has been angling for a Senate seat for her county in order to wield senatorial courtesy over gubernatorial appointments. She reportedly told Zwicker that she would support him if he moved from Middlesex to Somerset, something he declined.
InsiderNJ reported on Monday that Zenon Christodoulou, the vice chairman of the Somerset Democratic Party whose name is frequently mentioned as a candidate for multiple offices, was also mulling a Senate bid.
Freiman, who captured the open seat vacated by Republican Jack Ciattarelli when he ran for governor four years ago, now awaits news on who is new running mate will be.
Democrats in Hunterdon and Mercer counties have said they want a spot on the three-person legislative ticket.
That contest has become complicated, and potentially puts Freiman in a precarious situation if Zwicker runs his own slate of candidates.
So far, six Democrats appear to be seeking party support for the open seat: Flemington Council President Caitlin Giles-McCormick; Princeton Councilwoman Michelle Pirone; Dr. Chris Fistonich, a Yale-educated PhD immunologist, cybersecurity analyst and opera singer from Princeton; former Montgomery Mayor Sadaf Jaffer; Poppe and perhaps Christodoulou.
If Schaffer runs someone against Zwicker in the primary, it could force Freiman to decide if he wants to run with his two-time running mate, or with Schaffer’s candidate.
“We are living in unique and challenging times. We are recovering from the most devastating medical crisis of the century, combined with economic challenges, and a country that finds itself unable to regain civil political debate. We need leaders who have strong moral principles, who are firm in their values,” Freiman said today. “We need leaders with the ability to listen, compromise, and most importantly, leaders who can find common ground to solve New Jersey’s problems.”