Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Lumberton) will not join State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) in the Democratic Party, he told the New Jersey Globe Monday evening.
“I’ve known Senator Addiego for nearly a decade and currently share a joint legislative office with her, so it was personally disappointing to learn of her decision from the media. While it’s no secret that these are challenging times for Republicans in Burlington County, as a Navy SEAL I was taught to stand and fight when the going gets tough, not defect to the other side, especially when it was that other side who has controlled the legislature since the early 2000’s and has generally taxed, spent and borrowed the state into our current fiscal crisis.” Peters said.
“Dawn’s decision is one she will have to live with. You can serve with principle in either party, but switching parties for self-preservation isn’t something I would ever do.”
Earlier Monday, Addiego, a four-term Republican senator, announced she was switching parties and joining Democrats. Her defection gives Democrats a 26-14 majority in the upper legislature’s upper chamber, just one vote shy of a veto-proof majority.
The eighth legislative district, which both Addiego and Peters represent, has grown increasingly Democratic over time. Peters, who is serving his first term, won election by just 350 votes, while his running mate, Assemblyman Joe Howarth (R-Evesham) won reelection by just 645 votes.
In a statement, Addiego said Senate President Steve Sweeney’s policies were a major factor in her leaving the Republican Caucus.
There are no state Senate elections this year, but Peters and Howarth are considered some of the state’s most vulnerable Republicans, though that designation might not mean much for Peters, who said he has been approached by Democrats seeking to flip his party affiliation.
“I was a Republican long before I was elected or involved,” Peters said. “I think the principles of fiscal responsibility, taking responsibility for your own actions, those are ones that I will always hold true to, and not for any political expediency of facing a tough election or the fact that I may lose my position.”
But while Peters has no intention of switching, that may not be the case for Howarth, whom some Democrats are courting, though it isn’t clear that all — or even most — Burlington Democrats want him in the party.
After all, both of the eight district’s Republicans will see their seats hotly contested in November.