Assemblyman Joe Howarth (R-Evesham) say he’s not switching parties and that he didn’t know his running mate was becoming a Democrat until shortly before her announcement became public.
Howarth strongly pushed back on speculation that he was part of a package deal to flip to the Democrats along with State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham), who announced her party switch on Monday.
“I was not complicit in any way,” Howarth said. “Nobody talked to me.”
He said he never had any plans to switch parties at any point, and that doing so was not in his nature.
Addiego’s chief of staff, Rick England, sent a text message to Howarth at 1:23 PM on Monday while he was at his job at the Lenape Regional School District in Tabernacle.
“Can you come to Trenton immediately after school to meet? It’s important,” England wrote.
“Sure. Where at?” Howarth replied.
The next text came from Addiego.
“My office 149. Near committee room 6,” the senator said.
Howarth said he arrived at Addiego’s office at 3:20 and waited about ten minutes before she arrived. He was then handed a copy of a press release that was due to go out at 4 PM.
“I’ve known her for over ten years. We were kind of inseparable,” Howarth told the New Jersey Globe. “I didn’t know someone who was that much of a Republican could do something like that.”
Howarth acknowledged that Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald had discussed recruiting him to become a Democrat but insisted that his lack of interest was clear. He also said that he did not return calls from some Republican leaders following the Addiego announcement because he was still in shock.
The two-term legislator and former freeholder says he wants to run for re-election – and so it as a Republican.
“I plan to run for my seat. I’ve always planned to run for my seat. I have a lot I want to accomplish,” he said. “I’m not giving my seat up my seat. If I lose, I lose.”
Howarth said that rumors that he might resign his seat are false.
“I’m not quitting, especially for something I didn’t do,” Howarth told the Globe. “I can’t control what happens from here.”