State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) gave Gov. Phil Murphy “a very good grade” for his handling of the pandemic Thursday.
“Look at what has happened in some of the other states where restaurants have had to close down, right in Philadelphia or New York,” she said. “Once the second wave hit, we were still able to keep our businesses open — not what everyone would like them to be, but certainly open.”
Addiego, a former Republican who is seeking re-election as a Democrat for the first time this year, could be courting danger by praising Murphy’s response to COVID-19.
Attacks over Murphy’s handling of the virus, particularly as it relates to the state’s long-term care centers and businesses, have emerged as the leading Republican tactic in the early months of this year’s campaigns.
With the governor on the ballot, those attacks are likely to make their way down to legislative candidates and perhaps even those running for local or county office.
Some Democrats privately blamed Murphy and ads featuring him run by New Direction New Jersey, an issues-advocacy non-profit run by allies of the governor, in the closing weeks of 2019’s elections for Democratic losses in competitive districts.
That list includes the eighth, where Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) and Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport) defeated challenges from Gina LaPlaca and Mark Natale.
Addiego was an elected Republican for nearly two decades before she became a Democrat in January 2019. This year, she faces a challenge from Stanfield, a popular former Burlington County sheriff.
The challenger has pushed the governor on school reopenings and over embattled Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks, who faces calls to resign from most members of the Senate and is due to testify on abuses at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility before Assembly committees next week.