Home>Campaigns>Here’s an early short list for Jean Stanfield’s Senate seat

Chesterfield Democratic Municipal Chair Andrea Katz. (Photo: Andrea Katz).

Here’s an early short list for Jean Stanfield’s Senate seat

By David Wildstein, January 11 2023 5:59 pm

The announcement that State Sen. Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) will not seek re-election to a second term this year sets up a rare open seat contest in one of the state’s most politically competitive districts.

Republicans marginally increased their standing in the Burlington County-based 8th district during last year’s legislative redistricting.  While the last three cycles have seen close elections, Democrats have been unable to score a win in the 8th since John Sweeney (D-Florence) won an Assembly seat in the 1973 Watergate landslide.

The Republican short list includes two freshmen assemblymen elected with Stanfield in 2021: Brandon Umba (R-Medford) and Michael Torrissi, Jr. (R-Hammonton).  The GOP will need to decide if they are willing to give up senatorial courtesy in Burlington, since Torrissi comes from the Atlantic County portion of the district.   Former Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport), a U.S. Navy SEAL commander who did not seek re-election in 2021, could also emerge as a Senate candidate, although it’s not clear if he wants to return to the legislature.

Burlington County GOP Chairman Sean Earlen, a former Lumberton mayor and township committeeman, is considered a leading candidate for the Senate nomination, if he decides to run.

Latham Tiver, a business representative for Operating Engineers Local 825, one of the state’s most politically influential labor unions.  He served one term on the Burlington County Board of Freeholders before losing re-election in 2019.  Tiver nearly ran for Assembly in 2021, but withdrew after then-Senate President Steve Sweeney put pressure on his building trades brothers.

There is a long list of potential candidates on the Democratic side, including Evesham Mayor Jaclyn Veasy, who won a second term last year by a ten point margin, and Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, who lost an Assembly bid in the 8th in 2021.

Another potentially top recruit for Senate is Chesterfield Democratic Municipal Chair Andrea Katz, a former school board member and the communications director of the Fair Funding Action Committee, a bipartisan grassroots group that advocates for increased school funding.

Other candidates include: attorney Primo Cruz; Evesham Deputy Mayor and former labor leader Patricia Hansen; Evesham Councilwoman Heather Cooper, the Burlington County Democratic vice chair; Hainesport Township Committeewoman Anna Evans; Lumberton Township Committeewoman Rue Ryan, a member of CWA Local 1036; and Burlington County Undersheriff Odise Carr.

Two former Assembly candidates in the 8th, Lumberton Deputy Mayor Gina LaPlaca and former Evesham Democratic Municipal Chairman Mark Natale, are also possible candidates for the open seat.

Mount Holly school board member Will Monks, who briefly sought the GOP congressional nomination in New Jersey’s 3rd district in the last election, is also interested in the Senate seat.

Democrats will also be seeking two Assembly candidates to take on Umba and Torrissi, or their replacement if one moves up to the Senate.

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