SOMERVILLE – After nearly four decades as an elected official, New Jersey Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-16th) has decided not to seek reelection this year.
“After careful consideration and with the support of my family, I have made the difficult decision not to seek reelection to the State Senate. As a lifelong resident of Somerset County, it has been an honor to spend nearly 40 years serving the community I am proud to call home,” Bateman, 63, whose late father, Ray, was also a state senator and served as Senate president, said in a statement.
“I can’t begin to express how much I will miss serving our constituents.” he continued. “However, our state is still coping with a pandemic, and I am committed to using my remaining time in office to help the countless residents who are in desperate need of our support.”
Bateman got his start in elected government on the Branchburg Township Committee in 1983, where he served two terms and was mayor in 1988. He went on to be elected to the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders and was elected to the New Jersey Assembly in 1994.
He joined the New Jersey Senate in 2008 after the retirement of Walter J. Kavanaugh.
Bateman currently serves as deputy whip on the Senate Republican leadership team. He also currently serves on the Environment and Energy, Judiciary and Education committees.
As the longtime ranking Republican member of the Environment and Energy Committee, Bateman sponsored landmark legislation that created a long-term funding source for open space and farmland preservation, championed historical preservation efforts, and worked to protect clean air and water.
Other legislative achievements include laws that reduced the cost of auto insurance premiums, a grant program to provide thermal imaging cameras to fire departments and bipartisan protections to strengthen crime victims’ rights.
Before he leaves office at the end of the year, Bateman said he will continue to fight for “Timothy J. Piazza’s Law,” which would increase penalties for hazing on New Jersey’s college campuses.
“Although my time in elected office is coming to a close, I will always be a fierce advocate for the people of New Jersey. I’ll never stop fighting to make the Garden State a better place for our kids and grandkids. I look forward to finding new and exciting ways to give back to our neighbors in need,” said Bateman, who is still a Branchburg resident.
Like his father, Bateman was known for his ability to forge bipartisan compromises and reach across the aisle to enact legislation.
“I have always believed that government works best when we put people before politics. Good legislators should strive to be good listeners, follow their conscience and vote with the voices of the people they serve in mind. It is my hope that bipartisanship will continue to thrive in the halls of the New Jersey Statehouse long after I cast my final vote in the Senate chamber,” Bateman added. “I am beyond grateful to have had the privilege to work with so many passionate legislators and advocates on both sides of the aisle over the years. I would also like to thank my wonderful family, friends, and staff for all of their support and hard work.”
Bateman, who just welcomed his first grandchild, said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family and will continue to be active in community service and at the law firm where he serves as a partner.
Political observers predicted that Bateman would be facing an uphill battle in his campaign for reelection.
The 16th District, which had been a safe Republican district in Somerset and Hunterdon counties, has become increasingly Democratic after South Brunswick and Princeton were added following the 2010 Census.
Andew Zwicker and Roy Freiman, both Democrats, represent the district in the New Jersey Assembly.
Zwicker has been expected to run for the New Jersey Senate.
With Bateman’s decision not to seek reelection, Republicans now must find a candidate for the Senate and Assembly seats.
Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to his articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.