Assemblyman Christopher Bateman is prepared to challenge incumbent Walter Kavanaugh in the 16th district State Senate primary next year, if Kavanaugh does not retire. Several sources close to Bateman say that the decision to run for Senate in 2007 is final. The 73-year-old Kavanaugh, who has had serious health issues in recent years, has served in the Legislature since his election to the State Assembly in 1975. He moved up to the Senate in 1997 when John Ewing retired. Bateman, 49, is the son of former Senate President (and 1977 GOP gubernatorial candidate) Raymond Bateman; he was elected to the Assembly in 1993 after serving as a Somerset County Freeholder and Township Committeeman and Mayor in Branchburg. Kip Bateman is a partner in former Governor Donald DiFrancesco’s law firm. Some insiders say Somerset County GOP Chairman Dale Florio, who has been anxious to avoid a divisive primary, will likely lean on Kavanaugh to retire gracefully. A move by Bateman would open up an Assembly seat in this solidly Republican district for the first time in ten years. Possible candidates include Freeholder Denise Coyle, Bridgewater Mayor Patricia Flannery, and outgoing Freeholder Kenneth Scherer. The Star-Ledger reported this weekend that Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance faces a possible GOP primary challenge from Assemblyman Michael Doherty.