Hitting the Streets in LD16, and Navigating Anger, Negativity, Hardship and History

Jaffer on pre-Election Day in LD16.

NORTH BRUNSWICK – Inside an IBEW hall here the rows of union faithful received instructions on the evening before Election Day, moments before last-minute interactions with the LD16 Democratic Party ticket consisting of Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Assemblyman Roy Freiman and former Montgomery Mayor Sadaf Jaffer.

This is the so-called “radical” team, according to their Republican opponents.

The Democrats are trying to respond with a positive campaign, making the case that the GOP has to go negative in LD16 – creating a website singling out Jaffer, for example – because they have nothing constructive on which to run.

They’ve even gone so far as to put together an ad striving to stay on a euphoric message (see below).

“Politics is ultimately about people joining together to help people,” said the former Montgomery mayor. “We don’t have nearly enough woman [in government]. We’ve never had an Asian American woman in the state legislature. I’m an educator and an advocate for women’s rights, pubic health, workers rights and protecting the environment.

“It’s very easy to tear someone down,” she added. “But I think it’s unhealthy.”

Assemblyman Zwicker
Assemblyman Zwicker.


Negativity and divisive politics pervade this era.

When President Joe Biden arrived in Manville in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Ida, he was met by profanity hurling residents, among those who did receive him respectfully.

The GOP has not merely been negative.

Running against the Democrats on a ticket with Mike Pappas and Vincent Panico, Manville Councilman

Vinny Panico and Joe Lukac
Vinny Panico and Joe Lukac

Joe Lukac and his allies this weekend engaged in their own efforts to help flood victims by supporting a concert featuring Waylon Jennings, Jr.

Lukac said he and his mates haven’t been unfairly critical.

“Not really,” he said. “We just pointed out everything they’ve done. My main objection is that what happened with the senior citizens’ and veterans’ nursing homes need a town crier. As a veteran I’m disappointed in them that they didn’t resist the governor’s nursing home policies during the pandemic. As for the storm, the county itself was 12

The GOP points out that the Dems and their allies have not been angels.
The GOP points out that the Dems and their allies have not been angels (See above).

hours too late. The governor took too long to issue a storm warning and I didn’t appreciate their photo op afterwards. What we’ve based everything on is what I’ve heard we’ve heard at the doors.”

Still, Democrats in the 16th have outraised Republicans ten to one in a cycle that lacks veteran state Senator Kip Bateman, who retired in the face of a combination of redistricting disadvantages for his party, districtwide trends, and political divisiveness.

If the Democrats take a hit in Manville, they are gambling that much of the rest of the 16th – and certainly unaffiliated voters fatigued by invective coming from political leaders – is simply tried of mean-spiritedness.

Armed with packets proclaiming the candidacies of wicker for Senate and his running mates, the  contingent of Building Trades canvassers hit the streets with hours to go before Election Day.


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