Lines are being drawn for staffers in the eighth legislative district after State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) left the Republican party Monday.
Assemblyman Ryan Peters’ (R-Lumberton) chief of staff Brian Woods and staffers Josh Foote and Evan Schuler will stay on in the office that Peters shared with Addiego and shares with Assemblyman Joe Howarth (R-Evesham) while the latter mulls joining Addiego on the other side of the aisle.
The jobs of the district’s remaining staffers appear to be safe.
“I took Dawn’s people off my payroll,” Peters said. “She won’t answer my calls and neither will her Chief of Staff, but I was told that she contacted them and said their jobs are safe.”
There’s some question as to how welcome those staffers will be in the Democratic party. Among those joining Addiego are her chief of staff Rick England, a former top Senate GOP staffer who managed Doug Forrester’s 2005 gubernatorial campaign and Jim Logue, a conservative Republican political operative who has been involved in opposition research against many Democratic officeholders.
Aides Marilyn Williamson, Roxanne Kostyk and Anna Johnson are also expected to follow the newly-Democratic senator.
Salaries for those five add up to just under $300,000. That exceeds the $175,000 allocation Republican senators receive for staff payroll, but cash from Democratic leadership should be more than enough to plug any holes.
Further complicating things is Howarth’s role in New Jersey politics moving forward. Sources say that the Assemblyman is angling to join Democrats, but resistance from within the caucus may stop his efforts in their tracks.
If Democrats don’t end up taking Howarth, Republicans likely won’t be pleased with him either.
One source familiar with Burlington’s Republican politics said Howarth has gone dark and not spoken to anyone in Burlington County’s Republican leadership. Howarth also removed Woods, who was the district’s communications staffer before Addiego’s defection, from his Facebook page.
Unlike Peters, who said yesterday that he would not switch parties, Howarth has remained silent on the issue publicly.
The three legislators share a lease on their district office in Medford. It’s not yet clear how that issue will be resolved.
For the moment, the office is running with a skeleton crew while the future of Howarth’s party affiliation becomes clear.
Peters asked that the districts constituents be patient until the transition is complete and the district’s Republican legislative office is running at full capacity once more.