A vicious Republican primary in the eighth legislative district is over, but there’re few signs that hatchets are being buried.
Assemblyman Joe Howarth didn’t call his once running mate, Assemblyman Ryan Peters, to concede following his primary loss to Peters and former Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield on Tuesday.
“No. Nor was I expecting one,” Peters said when asked whether he’d received a concession call from the three-term Assemblyman. “As my mom told me, if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all. If anybody has any questions about Howarth’s character, I would look at his campaign.”
Howarth was dropped by the district’s Republican organizations over a belief that he attempted to join State Sen. Dawn Addiego when the latter defected to the Democratic party earlier this year.
Multiple sources on both sides of the aisle have told the New Jersey Globe that Howarth attempted to flip only to have those efforts stymied by local Democrats in the district who said they would not back Howarth in a primary.
Howarth denies attempting to switch.
Peters (5,215) and Stanfield (5,285) carried every town in the eighth district against Howarth, who received 2,673 votes.
“The primary’s over. I lost. I’m done,” Howarth said. “Time to move on.”
But, it’s not clear whether Howarth is quite ready to do so.
The assemblyman declined to say whether he’d endorse the district’s Republicans Thursday.
“Did you hear my statement?” Howarth said, referring to the comments quoted above. “Then there you go.”
Peters and Stanfield will face former Assembly aide Gina LaPlaca and Evesham District Leader Mark Natale in the general.
The district is expected to host one of the state’s closest races this year.
Howarth and Peters eked out wins in 2017 by a few hundred votes, and Democrats’ registration advantage in the district has only increased in the time since.
Former GOP Waterford Councilman Tom Giangiulo, Jr., who worked on Howarth’s re-election campaign, filed as an independent MAGA Conservative Tuesday, and it’s possible his candidacy will siphon votes off from the race’s two Republican candidates.