Assemblyman Joe Howarth (R-Evesham) said he did not shout at a meeting of Burlington municipal chairs from his district last Tuesday.
Howarth, who is vying for party support after being dropped by Burlington Republican chairman Sean Earlen, more than once likened his alleged outburst to the testimony now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh gave during his confirmation.
“It was more of a Brett Kavanaugh-moment,” Howarth said. “And the only people that thought he was angry were Democrats.”
Hainesport Republican municipal chairwoman Lee Schneider has disputed Howarth’s characterization of the events.
She said in a statement Friday that Howarth “raised his voice to us, refused to answer any questions, and made very clear that his priority was running regardless of overall support, with little caring about what this meant for the party in its entirety.”
Another source familiar with Burlington County’s Republican politics told the New Jersey Globe that Howarth yelled at the gathered municipal chairs, though details about what was said were scarce.
The assemblyman said he was displeased by the representation his district had at the meeting.
“I was a little bit disappointed that there were 30-plus people from district seven. Maybe there were eight out of 15 from [district] eight, because there were many people that were out of town,” Howarth said. “It was a holiday weekend, and there were people in there that pretty much had been with me from the beginning, so it was a little disheartening.”
Howarth gave little indication of whether he thought he would be able to earn the party line while still being regarded suspiciously by some of his fellow Republicans.
Though he has denied it, many Republicans in Burlington County and the eighth legislative district believe Howarth attempted to join the Democratic party along with State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham), who announced she was leaving the Republican party in late January.
“I don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see,” Howarth said of his chances of winning the support of the county party. “There’s a lot of people in our district that are still supportive.”
Howarth has said he intends to run as an off-the-line Republican if the party doesn’t give him the nod.