Former Burlington County Freeholder Latham Tiver has dropped his bid for State Assembly in the 8th district, leaving Republicans searching for a new candidate before the March 13 Burlington GOP Convention, two South Jersey Republicans have confirmed.
Tiver committed to running in January, but speculation that he might withdraw has been around for more than a month.
While the decision not to run was his, Tiver’s day job as an International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 business representative – and their desire to avoid a fight with Senate President Steve Sweeney in the 8th district – might have played into his final determination.
Democrats might have adeptly removed the strongest candidate from the race.
There are two open Republican seats in the district: Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) is running for Senate, and Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport) is not seeking re-election to a third term. Peters, a Navy SEAL team leader, could be called up for active duty this year.
Hammonton Councilman Michael Torrissi has been seeking one of the Assembly seats and Burlington appears prepared to support him.
The Atlantic County municipality is a Republican anchor for the 8th, and Torrissi, who owns a large trucking company, is prepared to spend some of his own money on the race.
Republicans are looking at five possible candidates in their bid to hold on to two GOP Assembly seats: Medford Mayor Chuck Watson; former two-term Evesham Councilman Bob DiEnna; Hainesport Committeeman Ted Costa; former Eastampton Councilman John Adams, a former Army JAG Corps officer; and Lumberton Township Administrator Brandon Umba, a former aide to Rep. Jon Runyan and political director of the Burlington County Republicans.
Watson is considered the favorite, if he decides to run. He’s up for re-election as mayor this year and will have to choose if he wants to give up that post to run for Assembly.
Democrats have not won an Assembly seat in the 8th since 1973, but races have become closer over the last few years.
State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham), who won re-election as a Republican in 2017 with 52% of the vote, switched parties in 2019. She is seeking re-election as a Democrat, with the strong support of Sweeney.