The Burlington County Republican Committee endorsed Assemblyman Ryan Peters and Sheriff Jean Stanfield for Assembly in the eighth legislative district by voice vote Saturday morning.
Incumbent Assemblyman Joe Howarth was not present Saturday. He wrote an email to some county leaders Friday, telling them he would not be attending the convention and would instead use the time to reach out to rank and file Republicans in the district.
“Going into this, we knew that the County Committee fight was one stacked against our campaign with the ultimate say of who would be awarded the ‘line’ by the County Chairman, regardless of how many Municipal Chairs supported us,” Howarth said.
Howarth lost county support following State Sen. Dawn Addiego’s defection to the Democratic party. Republican leaders were unable to reach Howarth for two days following Addiego’s defection. Sources on both sides of the aisle have told the New Jersey Globe that Howarth attempted to defect alongside his former Senate running mate.
Howarth has maintained that he never intended to leave the Republican party. He said he said nothing following Addiego’s defection because he was too shocked to react.
The incumbent will run off the line to challenge the two county-backed candidates.
A handful of Burlington committee members voted against endorsing the slate, which Burlington GOP Chairman Sean Earlen said was unanimously endorsed by the county’s municipal chairs.
Whoever wins the Republican nod will face Democratic candidates Gina LaPlaca and Mark Natale, who were endorsed by Burlington’s Democratic County Committee on Thursday.
The committee did not back any candidates in the seventh legislative district.
Hainesport Republican Municipal Chairwoman Lee Schneider will run for the county’s freeholder board alongside incumbent Burlington Freeholder Latham Tiver.
Schneider will face off against Freeholder Dan O’Conner, who won the seat vacated by former Freeholder George Youngkin in January, while Tiver will face off against Westhampon Councilwoman Linda Hynes.
Youngkin resigned from his seat immediately after he was sworn in. He had suspended his 2018 freeholder campaign following reports that said he was arrested in 2006 on domestic violence charges but won anyway.
Mike Ditzel, who is chief of detectives at the sheriff’s office, got the Republican sheriff’s nod. He will face Democratic candidate Anthony Basantis in the general.
In February, Stanfield, the current sheriff, told the New Jersey Globe she would retire on May 1, before the end of her term. Ditzel will become undersheriff once Stanfield retires.