State Sen. Fred Madden (D-Washington Township) will not seek re-election, bringing a 20-year career in the New Jersey State Senate to a close and setting up a competitive race in a district that became more competitive in legislative redistricting.
Madden, 68, a former acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, was first elected to the Senate in 2003 when he ousted a Republican incumbent by 63 votes in what had been the most expensive legislative race in state history up to that point.
Democrats have not yet named their candidate to replace him, with several contenders still under consideration. County Republican organizations are backing Gloucester County Commissioner Nick DeSilvio, a 59-year-old union member, U.S. Navy veteran, and school board member.
The newly-drawn 4th is a swing district: Republican Jack Ciattarelli carried it by five percentage points in his 2021 race against Gov. Phil Murphy, but Joe Biden won it by seven points in the 2020 presidential election.
Madden is the chairman of the Senate Labor Committee and has spent years working on legislation to improve the quality of life for middle-class New Jersey families, a bill sponsored by Madden mandating speedy improvements and enhanced support to the Unemployment Insurance Quality Service Plan.
He has also focused on strengthening the state’s commitment to mental health issues. Madden wrote a law that requires health insurance providers to offer mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Madden’s retirement is not unexpected. He had less than $80,000 in the bank at the end of last year after raising less than $7,000 in 2022. He stepped down last year as Gloucester County Democratic Chairman and has been eyeing retirement for six years.
Under the old map, Gov. Phil Murphy carried the 4th district two years ago by two percentage points, but the towns in the new map gave GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli a five-point win.
An unusually close eight-point margin re-elected Madden in 2021 against Republican Steve Pakradooni, Jr.
The new map removed Democratic strongholds like Lindenwold and added one of the few Republican towns in Camden County, Waterford.
Under these new lines, Democratic Senate candidates in 2021 combined for 50.6% of the vote to 49.4% for Republicans – a margin of just about a thousand votes. That came despite the state GOP offering no help to Pakradooni.
In Madden’s 2003 campaign against State Sen. George Geist (R-Gloucester Township), he shattered spending records and spent about $4.4 million and aired a prime-time Philadelphia network TV ad during the World Series. Geist spent roughly $1.9 million.
Madden becomes the seventh senator and the 22nd incumbent legislator to announce they won’t seek re-election.
The filing deadline for the June primary is March 27.