Evesham Democratic Municipal Chairman Mark Natale will make his second bid for State Assembly in the politically competitive 8th legislative district, where Democrats have their best chance in the state to flip two Republican seats this year.
Natale will team up with Allison Eckel, a Medford marketing specialist who serves on the Lenape Regional High School District Board of Education.
Neither of the Republican incumbents are seeking re-election.
Freshman Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) is giving up her Assembly seat to run for Senate, and Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport) is not seeking re-election to a third term.
Natale and Eckel will run for the incumbent state senator, Dawn Marie Addiego (D-Evesham).
Addiego was a longtime Republican officeholder and a three-term Republican senator in 2019 when she announced she was switching parties. Her race against Stanfield, a proven vote-getter who served six terms as the Burlington County Sheriff, will be her first as a Democrat.
“Our ticket represents the values and ideals of working men and women in Burlington, Camden and Atlantic Counties,” Addiego said.
Natale and Eckel will face Republican Assembly candidates Michael Torrissi, Jr., a Hammonton councilman, and Brandon Umba, a former aide to Rep. Jon Runyan (R-Moorestown) who is now the Lumberton Township Administrator.
The 8th has 9,244 more Democrats than Republicans, but Democrats haven’t won the district since the 1973 anti-Republican Watergate wave. In her last race as a Republican, Addiego was re-elected by a 52%-48% margin.
“When I ran in 2019, I was proud of the energy and movement we created in our community. We live in a world that still highlights too many of the same problems that motivated me to run before,” said Natale. “The pandemic has only served to underscore our greatest needs as a society.
In that race, Natale lost to Stanfield and Peters by nearly 2,000 votes, but it’s not unusual for candidates to win competitive districts on their second try.
“As an employee rights attorney, I know too well the gut-wrenching experience of sitting across the table from a mother who doesn’t know where her next paycheck is coming from,” Natale said. “Or the fight for a young family to secure health care after their company disappeared during the pandemic. COVID-19 has been the ultimate reminder that we built a society with too many families being one bump in the road away from falling off course.”
Eckel said she will “work hard to ensure this community receives its fair share of school funding, which will help reduce and stabilize our property taxes.”
“I will dedicate myself to eliminating wasteful government spending that chokes off the innovation that I know New Jersey is capable of,” Eckel said.