Senator Kip Bateman’s (R-16) announced retirement created a few minor spasms of angst for Democrats, but not enough to throw Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16) off stride, as he formally collected the endorsement last night of the Somerset County Democratic Screening Committee.
A few howls out of Somerset had accompanied Zwicker’s candidacy.
He’s from Middlesex, and fears of the vaunted Middlesex machine flattening of its genteel neighbor under the guise of a Princeton University plasma physicist persisted long enough for Zwicker to remind people that he is not, in fact, a Kevin McCabe-crafted Trojan Horse.
He put somewhat of a punctuation mark on that point today in an interview with InsiderNJ when he said he would back state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) for another term. The pop-up of a Zwicker alternative in a Democratic Primary at one point suggested Sweeney-affirmed resistance to Middlesex expansion and the possibility of a Middlesex-based alternative to the South Jersey behemoth. The assemblyman insisted no.
“One-hundred percent,” Zwicker said of his support for Sweeney. “I think he’s been an outstanding senate president. I look forward to being a part of his caucus next term.”
As for the feeling among Somerset Democrats that they won’t have a Somerset residence in the event of a Zwicker LD16 win, the senate candidate offered the following:
“First let me give a particular shout out to Senator Bateman, who has had a long and distinguished career, who was a leader, especially on the environment. He’s not the highest rated Republican but the highest rated legislator, period, when it came to representing clean air and clean water.
“I’m here representing all the people,” Zwicker added. “I’m proud of my accomplishments for Somerset County, but I am proud of my accomplishments for Hunterdon, Middlesex and Mercer counties. I’ll put that record up against anybody.”
His early voting bill – 3203 – passed on Monday by a vote of 58 11-1.
He said he prides himself on serving the citizens of the 16th District across party lines, including those without party affiliation.
“It’s been a Somerset seat,” he said, “but it’s also been a Republican seat. The last time Democrat represented the district was [over 100 years ago].”
Zwicker made note of the coming conventions, including Somerset this week, and Middlesex next.
“What happened is Somerset had a small set of committee members who are in all or part of Somerset county – last night they put forth their results, nonbinding results,” he said. “I personally have called every committee member this week. It is a first step. I’m appreciative of it but there is a long way to go.”