Burlington County Democratic candidates have decided to shelve their campaign walk cards after realizing that they included a photo of George Youngkin, a former freeholder who had been arrested for attempting to choke his wife and for stalking another woman.
It’s still not clear why the Democratic county chairman, Joe Andl, signed off on the campaign literature without noticing that Youngkin was in one of the photos. Andl did not respond to a text message seeking comment.
“The Burlington County Democratic Party’s insistence on embracing and celebrating a dangerous man like George Youngkin, who has a documented history of choking, harassing, and stalking women, is astonishing,” said Bass River Mayor Deborah Buzby-Cope, the Republican candidate for county clerk.
Youngkin dropped out of the race for freeholder in late September 2018 after the news of his 2006 arrest broke. Democrats on the ballot, including U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and congressional candidate Andy Kim, immediately told Youngkin to end his campaign; so did the Democratic legislators from Burlington’s 7th district.
Democrats flipped two freeholder seats in 2017 and needed to win one of the two Republican seats up the following year to take control. With Youngkin still on the ballot, Republicans became more confident in their chances to hold their majority.
But the Democratic wave during Donald Trump’s midterm election allowed Youngkin to win anyway, especially since the local daily newspaper, the Burlington County Times, was still strong and relevant. He ran more than 8,000 votes behind his running mate, but nearly 10,000 ahead of the Republican incumbents.
In a private ceremony, Youngkin took office on January 2, 2019, and then immediately signed his resignation letter.
The photo of Youngkin used on the Democratic brochure was from six years ago, when Youngkin was running for State Senate in the 8th district and Joanne Schwartz, a former freeholder, was seeking an Assembly seat. Youngkin’s arrest did not come up that year when Youngkin won 48% of the vote in his challenge to then-GOP State Sen. Dawn Addiego (R-Evesham).
“I could ask Joanne Schwartz to disavow Youngkin, but we’ve already been down this road when he was her running mate. Clearly, her word doesn’t mean anything, so there’s no reason for the voters to believe her this time around,” Buzby-Cope said. “I’m really disappointed Gaye Burton, Andrea Katz, and Carol Murphy align themselves with a party and with candidates who support a man like George Youngkin.”