Before Democrats agree to back former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski for State Senate, he’ll need to explain his past support of Donald Trump, Chris Christie and other Republicans and convince them of his Democratic bona fides if he switches parties and runs in the 8th legislative district.
The former Philadelphia Eagles star and longtime Burlington County resident contributed $1,000 to Republican Jack Ciattarelli in his 2021 bid to unseat Gov. Phil Murphy and donated $5,000 to Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) in his 2020 and 2022 re-election campaigns after the South Jersey congressman switched parties.
But now, South Jersey Democrats have a poll in the field to test Jaworski as a Democratic State Senate candidate against Republican Latham Tiver in the 8th, where GOP State Sen. Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) is not seeking re-election.
“This is George Norcross’ Dr. Oz moment. Scraping the district for a B-list celebrity in the hopes that name recognition will carry the day,” said Sue Altman, the state director of New Jersey Working Families. “And in an Eagles Superbowl year. It’s the perfect plan- except Mr. Jaws has a long record of supporting candidates who are anti-choice, pro-gun, anti-worker, with ties to election deniers.”
In addition to Ciattarelli and Van Drew, Jaworski contributed $1,000 to Republican Bob Healey’s campaign against Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) last year and $3,800 to Christie’s 2013 e-election bid. In 2021, he sent $1,000 to State Sen. Michael Testa, Jr. (R-
In 2015, Jaworski appeared on a sports broadcast wearing a Trump for President button and a Make America Great Again cap.
“It appears from his social media that he was an enthusiastic supporter of Trump. Democrats and NJWF’s thousands of members and affiliates in South Jersey will engage in a full vetting process with a pretty substantive questionnaire to ascertain exactly what we are getting with this TV personality turned candidate for office,” Altman said. “But as of now, we don’t have a lot of evidence he is anything but an election-denying Trump supporter.”
Jaworski also donated $250 to former New York Giants star Phil McConkey’s unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for Congress in a Central Jersey GOP House district in 1990, $250 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 1996, and $2,000 to President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004.
Records also show a history of contributions to South Jersey Democrats: $2,500 to Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights), $14,100 to Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) – including a donation to Norcross in 2014, when he faced for Eagles player Garry Cobb — and $2,500 to Van Drew during his 2018 congressional race when he was elected as a Democrat.
In 2021, Jaworski wrote a $2,500 check to the General Majority PAC, a super PAC allied with George Norcross. He donated $5,000 to American Democratic Majority, a Norcross-affiliated super PAC, in 2021. In 2015, he gave $500 to New Jerseyans for A Better Tomorrow, a Super PAC tied to former Senate President Steve Sweeney.
He also donated $1,000 to Cory Booker’s 2013 U.S. Senate campaign.
If Democrats pick Jaworski, he would be the third party-switcher to run for State Senate in the last sixteen years. Seven-term Assemblyman Francis Bodine (R-Moorestown) ran as a Democrat for State Senate in 2007 after Burlington Republicans refused to support his re-election; he lost to Republican County Clerk Philip Haines in a race for an open Senate seat, receiving 39%. State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) switched parties in early 2019 and ran for re-election as a Democrat two years ago; she lost to Stanfield by a 51%-49% margin.
The 8th district includes parts of Burlington and Atlantic counties. Democrats ran close races in the politically competitive 8th for the last three cycles but have not on the district since 1973.