Daniel O’Connell and Gina LaPlaca could wind up as running mates within the next ten weeks as Burlington County Democrats prepare for the 2019 general election.
O’Connell defeated LaPlaca by ten votes, 190 to 185, in a special election convention for the seat vacated this month by George Youngkin. Both advanced to a runoff after O’Connell led LaPlaca by three votes, 174 to 171, on the first ballot.
It’s noteworthy that 87% of county committee members voted for either O’Connell or LaPlaca on the first ballot in a field of seven candidates.
Burlington Democratic sources say that LaPlaca is now the front runner to take on Republican freeholder Latham Tiver for a three-year term this fall. That move could help unite the party after a close convention vote.
O’Connell will be on the ballot too, running in a special election for the remaining 26 months of Youngkin’s term.
Democrats now have a 4-1 majority on the Board of Freeholders, with the GOP defending their only seat.
Turnout for the convention was an enormous 78%, impressive considering county committee members of a party out of power since 1975 came out on a bad weather Saturday in January. They lost just 23 votes between the first and second ballots.