State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) said on Thursday that her former running mate, Assemblyman Joe Howarth (R-Evesham) was not angling to join the Democratic party along when she left the GOP last month.
“Let’s just clear the record here,” Addiego said. “He did not know until that afternoon, and it’s my understanding that Greenwald had approached him — someone had approached Ryan Peters as well — and Joe told Greenwald right on the floor, ‘No.’”
Sources have told the New Jersey Globe that Democrats were seeking to flip both Howard and Addiego, but after the latter announced her party alignment, Democrats decided they liked their chances of flipping Howarth’s seat on their own.
Addiego’s defection left Howarth in an awkward position. The two had known each other for more than a decade, and Howarth, who has denied having any intentions of become a Democrat, says shock over Addiego’s defection was part of the reason he did not immediately announce his intentions to remain a Republican.
Howarth has likewise said there was no deal to include him in the party in a party switch, but sources say some Republican leaders in Burlington County no longer trust Howarth, believing he attempted to defect because of his silence following Addiego’s split with the GOP.
Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Lumberton) announced he would stay in the Republican party hours after Addiego announced she was leaving the same. Howarth’s announcement came days later.
Even if Republicans back him in his reelection race later this year, Howarth — and Peters — are still vulnerable. The eighth legislative district has grown more Democratic over the past several cycles, and the two Assemblymen won their elections by just a few hundred votes in 2017.
State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Palmyra) said Thursday that Democrats are in the process of picking candidates to field there but don’t expect to have those selections finalized for two or three weeks.
It remains to be seen how, if at all, the saga around Addiego’s defection will affect the district’s Assembly races.