Gov. Phil Murphy today endorsed Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) for re-election to a third term in the State Assembly and is backing former Montgomery Mayor Sadaf Jaffer for an open seat in the 16th district.
“Roy Frieman and Sadaf Jaffer’s impeccable credentials and unique lived experiences form a powerful ticket to represent the diverse community that comprises the 16th Legislative District,” Murphy said. “From creating future-focused green jobs to protecting access to healthcare for women to providing support for innovative startups, Roy and Sadaf have bold ideas to confront the challenges we face today and a forward-looking plan to shape what tomorrow looks like.”
Jaffer is seeking the Assembly seat Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) is giving up running for the State Senate. Murphy endorsed Zwicker earlier this month.
If Jaffer wins the general election in a district that tilts Democratic, she could become the first Muslim and first Pakistani American to serve in the New Jersey Legislature.
That number could immediately start at two. Pakistani-born Shama Haider is seeking the Democratic Assembly nomination in the 37th district, running on the organization line in a hotly contested primary.
“I’m endorsing Roy Freiman for reelection and Sadaf Jaffer’s historic candidacy today because I know they’ll deliver results for New Jerseyans across the 16th legislative district.”
Zwicker is seeking a seat in the legislature’s upper chamber currently held by State Sen. Kip Bateman (R-Branchburg), who is not seeking re-election this year after 14 years in the Senate and 14 in the Assembly.
Democrats have not won a Somerset-based Senate seat since 1902, but Zwicker may represent his party’s best shot at picking up a seat. Biden carried the 16th district by 28,165 votes, 61%-38% last year.
The endorsements, which are among a growing number Murphy has made in Democratic legislative primaries around the state, come as little surprise.
The governor endorsed Zwicker earlier this month, helping to end an intra-party standoff between the assemblyman and Somerset County Democratic Chairwoman Peg Schaffer, who initially declined to back Zwicker because of his Middlesex County residency.
Schaffer wants a senator from her home county so she can exercise senatorial courtesy over gubernatorial nominees from Somerset.
Murphy played a role in pushing for Jaffer in a bid to increase the number of Asian Americans in the legislature, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Jaffer is one of three candidates seeking the party nod to run for Zwicker’s Assembly seat, and the party is coalescing behind her.
Princeton Democrats have eschewed two hometown candidates, Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros and Dr. Chris Fistonich, to back her, and she’s already won lines in Middlesex, Somerset and Hunterdon counties. Murphy will run on those lines as well.