Home>Campaigns>Lanza, Pappas mulling challenge to Zwicker for 16th district Senate seat

Hunterdon County Commissioner John E. Lanza. (Photo: John Lanza).

Lanza, Pappas mulling challenge to Zwicker for 16th district Senate seat

Hunterdon commissioner unlikely to announce after his 2022 re-election bid is over

By David Wildstein, August 22 2022 4:12 pm

Hunterdon County Commissioner John E. Lanza is increasingly emerging as a likely Republican challenger to State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) next year, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Republicans have Zwicker, the only Democrat to flip a Senate seat in 2021, at the top of their target list after redistricting made the 16th legislative district slightly more competitive.

Gabe Plumer, the Hunterdon County GOP chairman, said that it was too premature to talk about 2023.  Lanza is on the ballot as a candidate for a fourth term as a county commissioner.

“Lanza is giving strong consideration to a Senate bid, but remains focused on the current election,” Plumer said.  “We’re dedicated on getting Tom Kean elected to Congress, re-electing our sheriff and commissioners, and our local candidates.”

Zwicker defeated former Rep. Michael Pappas (R-Branchburg) last year by 5,205 votes, 53%-47%.  Pappas, who served as a congressman from 1997 to 1999, is thinking about a rematch with Zwicker; he lost the last month of campaigning after contracting COVID.

“I am seriously considering a run for State Senate next year,” Pappas told the New Jersey Globe.  “I was thankful for all of the support I received last year.  And I care deeply about the future of our state.”

Gov. Phil Murphy carried the old 16th by six percentage points against Republican Jack Ciattarelli, who had been the assemblyman from the district from 2012 to 2018.  Joe Biden outpaced Donald Trump in the old district by 22 percentage points.

In the newly drawn district, which lost Somerville and Manville and picked up more of Hunterdon County, Murphy led Ciattarelli by five points, and Biden won it by 21 points.

Two Democratic Assembly incumbents are expected to seek re-election: Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough), who is in his third term, and Sadaf Jaffer (D-Montgomery), who won Zwicker’s Assembly seat in 2021.

Republican State Sen. Christopher Bateman (R-Branchburg) retired last year after four terms in the Senate and a total of 28 years in the New Jersey legislature.

The 16th legislatve district includes parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset counties.

This story was updated at 5:21PM to include comment from Pappas. 

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