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State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham), right, with Assemblyman Joe Howarth (R-Evesham)

Burlington GOP official wants process opened to help Howarth

Abigail Bargar threatens resignation unless Republicans change screening committee makeup

By David Wildstein, February 21 2019 3:34 pm

The split between Burlington County Republicans over the decision to dump Assemblyman Joe Howarth (R-Evesham) for the GOP ticket continues to widen.

Pemberton Township Republican municipal chair Abigail Bargar wants the county organization to “disband the current back-room screening committee” and replace it with the fifteen municipal chairs in the 8th district portion of the county.

“This is the only way can we ensure the process is in fact open and transparent,” said Bargar, the secretary of the Burlington County Republican Committee. “The only way to truly have transparency in this process is to empower each of our chairmen with the ability to screen and select the candidates that will represent them.”

Bargar says that she will resign from the screening committee unless the county chairman, Sean Earlen, agree to the changes in how the Assembly candidates are chosen.

“In recent days, secrets, lies, and innuendo have become all too common in our party,” said Bargar. “This is a failure in leadership.”

Republicans are set to vote on Saturday to pick a new running mate for Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Lumberton).

Earlen is not supporting Howarth for re-election.  He says Howarth mulled switching parties last month along with State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham).

Bargar was one of eleven Republican municipal chairs to sign a letter in support of  Howarth.

“It is clear that the handling of this entire situation has been designed to ensure that our voices are not being heard,” said Bargar.  “By stacking the last chairman’s meeting with non-8th District chairman and non-elected officials, chairman Earlen attempted to shut down the voices of concern within our party.”

Bargar says she disagrees with a policy that allows party leaders who live in another legislative district to decide who the GOP runs in the 8th.

But as a member of past screening committees, Bargar has participated in screening committees that chose legislative candidates in the neighboring 7th district.

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