Burlington County Republicans have elected Sean Earlen, the former mayor of Lumberton, as their new county chairman.
Earlan replaced Bill Layton, who retired after eleven years as county chairman.
The New Jersey Globe first reported speculation that Layton was giving up his party post and would be replaced be Earlen.
Pat Benedetti also stepped down as vice chair and was replaced by Linda Hughes, who lost her bid for re-election to the Board of Freeholders last month.
“I am honored to have the unanimous support of the County Committee but I would be remiss if I didn’t first thank Bill and Pat for their leadership over the last eleven years,” Earlen said. “I am looking forward to working with party officials, activists and elected officials of all ages to retain our two State Assembly seats in LD-8, County Sheriff and current Freeholder seat in addition to wining back a Freeholder seat and picking up two State Assembly seats in LD-7.”
Earlen, who is also the chairman of the New Jersey Pinelands Commission and a Lumberton Township Committeeman, is a close political ally of Layton.
Democrats won control of the Board of Freeholders on November 6 for the first time since 1975.
The emergence of competitive elections in Burlington has been a long-time coming, and most pundits believe that the exceptional political skills of Bill Layton and his predecessor, Glenn Paulsen, have enabled he Republicans to last this long.
Burlington has become increasingly more Democratic over the last decade. Their edge in voter registration has expanded to 38.909; in 2007, when Layton first became county chairman, Burlington had 746 more Republicans than Democrats.
Republicans lost two freeholder seats in 2017 and two more this year, giving Democrats a 4-1 majority. Republican county clerk Tim Tyler also lost.
The retirement of State Sen. Diane Allen (R-Edgewater Park) last year gave Democrats their first state senator in twenty years. Democrat Troy Singleton (D-Palmyra) won the seat with 66% of the vote.
Burlington County now has a Democratic congressman for the first time since 1881. Rep.-elect Andy Kim (D-Marlton) ousted two-term Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River) and will likely face an aggressive challenge from Republicans in 2020.
Possible candidates to challenge Kim include State Sen. Dawn Addiego (R-Evesham), outgoing Burlington County freeholder Kate Gibbs, and former Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.