Assemblyman Joe Howarth (R-Evesham) is on the verge losing Republican party support for his re-election campaign after negotiations with Democrats about a party switch ended badly, sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the New Jersey Globe.
Now Howarth has a rapidly shrinking list of allies in his district and an ever-narrowing path to hold his 8th district seat both in the June GOP primary and in the November general election.
Two days of silence following State Sen. Dawn Addiego’s (D-Evesham) defection from the Republican party have left numerous Republican leaders at the municipal and county levels in Burlington seething over his apparent willingness to entertain a party switch.
Republicans believe Howarth attempted to defect and believe he would be a Democrat today had the party not spurned his advances.
Some GOP leaders are seeking Howarth’s resignation, and while no official decision has been made to revoke party support, right now he faces severe obstacles to win the Republican organization line in Burlington County.
On Thursday, Howarth said he was too shocked by Addiego’s defection and too occupied by staffing issues related to the same to immediately announce he would remain in the Republican party.
“There’s a lot of reasons why. I didn’t know what to expect or what to do. You know what it’s like when you lose one of your best friends and confidants? You just want to go in a hole and hide,” Howarth said. “It took me 24 hours just to get over the fact that this is occurring. We were inseparable for ten years. We were very good friends.”
Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Lumberton), who shared staff and office space with Howarth and Addiego prior to the latter’s flipping parties, announced he had no intention of switching his party affiliation hours after Addiego announced she was crossing the aisle.
Sources say Addiego and Howarth were supposed to switch parties together, but after Addiego defected, Democrats did not see much reason to bring her now-former running mate into the fold.
Democrats believed that Howarth, who won reelection by just 645 votes in 2017, could be defeated in November, and even if they accepted entreaties sources say he has made, there’s little belief that he would win Democratic organization lines for this year’s election.
Howarth’s silence during the two days following Addiego’s defection extended further than the press. Sources say he was unreachable during that period. Calls and messages made to Howarth by Republican leaders at the municipal and county levels were not returned over that period, and that silence has shaken trust in Howarth.