Gov. Phil Murphy gave State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) good marks for the 26 months she’s spent as a member of the Democratic party Thursday.
“I think she’s done a great job. I’m glad she’s come over to our side of the aisle, and I think she’s had a particular impact on our small businesses, and today’s a good example of that,” Murphy said following the signing of a bill providing $25 million in small business aid that was sponsored by Addiego.
Addiego was an elected Republican for nearly two decades, including 11 years as a GOP legislator, before she defected to the Democratic Party in January 2019.
At the time, Murphy said he was “thrilled” to see her join the party, though he nudged her to vote in favor of progressive policies — like a $15 minimum wage and marijuana legalization — in what was seen as a less-than-subtle signal.
The senator voted in favor of a $15 minimum wage just two days after joining the Democratic Party, and though she opposed marijuana legalization in March 2019, she voted in favor of marijuana legalization and decriminalization bills that came before the Senate this December.
Addiego will run in one of the state’s most closely watched contests this year. The eighth legislative district has become politically competitive as Democrats gain ground in Burlington County.
Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton), a popular former county sheriff, is seeking the Democrat’s seat in the upper chamber, though Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport), a former Addiego running mate, is not seeking re-election.
Some Democrats privately blamed Murphy and ads featuring him launched by New Direction New Jersey, an issues advocacy non-profit run by allies of the governor, for Democratic losses in the district in 2019.
Party leadership is likely to put money behind the race, as is the General Majority PAC, a super PAC with ties to South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross. It’s not clear whether Murphy’s praise will benefit the senator.
Addiego will likely need the help. Democrats have held seats in the district three times since the state adopted its 40-district map in 1973. Assemblyman John Sweeney won one of its two Assembly seats in 1973 but was ousted by Assemblyman Jim Saxton (R-Mount Holly), later a congressman, in 1975.
Assemblyman Francis Bodine served seven full terms in the Assembly, but only one of them as a Democrat. He defected to the Democratic Party in April 2007 and ran for State Senate instead of seeking re-election.
That run proved unsuccessful and a Republican took his seat in the lower chamber. Her name? Dawn Addiego.