MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ – Democratic incumbents Patrick Diegnan, Jr. of South Plainfield and Nancy Pinkin of East Brunswick were re-elected to the New Jersey’s 18th Legislative District on Nov. 3, defeating Republican challengers Synnove Bakke of East Brunswick and Teresa Hutchison of South River.
Assembly terms are two years and, as of press time, unofficial totals indicate that Diegnan received 16,147 votes and Pinkin received 16,008 votes while challengers and political newcomers Bakke and Hutchison received 9,071 and 9,378 votes, respectively.
Diegnan, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2002, was re-elected to his eighth term. He has operated a general practice law firm in South Plainfield since 1974. As a legislator, he serves as chair of the Education Committee, is vice chair of Consumer Affairs, and a member of Regulated Professions. Diegnan has also served as Parliamentarian of the General Assembly since 2005 and as Deputy Speaker since 2008.
“I always say that I am the luckiest guy on the face of the earth… I have a tremendous running mate. I really like her, which is not always the case. We work together as a team,” said Diegnan on Election night, extending gratitude to his wife and family and those who worked hard on his campaign. “I just want to thank everyone for all they did and all those who worked so hard for us.”
He added, “We are just blessed and it is so nice to be a Democrat, where we stand for something and people recognize it and it is just the most terrifc thing in the world to be part of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization. Thank you all.”
Pinkin, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2013, was re-elected to her second term. She is a health care professional and, prior to being elected to the Assembly, served as a member of the East Brunswick Town Council for 10 years. As a legislator, she serves on the Assembly Health and Senior Citizens, Assembly Homeland Security and the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committees.
“Middlesex is just the greatest county and I want to thank all of our staff, all the campaign staff and all of [the supporters] for really coming together,” said Pinkin after the election results came in. “I am proud to share Middlesex County in the 18th District.”
Hutchison, a professional photographer, has resided in South River since 2005 and currently serves as chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for Person’s with Disabilities, chair of South River’s Memorial Day Parade Committee, and chair of the South River's Cultural Arts & Heritage Commission.
"I would like to congratulate my opponents and wish them well. I would also like to congratulate all of the local candidates who are celebrating victory tonight and offer my condolences to those who did not make it this time around,” said Hutchison, adding, “While it is disappointing to lose I can’t ignore the many positives I’ve experienced during this tough campaign … I have come away from this with a better understanding of the issues facing all of us, and an even stronger resolve to do my best to support our leaders and keep fighting in whatever capacity possible towards a better future for all of us.”
Bakke, a resident of East Brunswick for 12 years, is a Middlesex County Republican Committeewoman and former member of the East Brunswick Zoning Board. She is currently employed as legislative liaison to Republican Assemblyman Rob Clifton (12th L.D. – Old Bridge).
As of press time, requests for comment from Bakke had not been returned.