New Jersey’s top Democrats are thrilled to have State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) under their wing, but Democrats in her town are a bit warier of the recently-former Republican.
“It is what it is,” Evesham Democratic chairman Philip Warren said. “No, I’m not enthused, but she has two more years in office. She comes from Evesham, and by all accounts, she’s a very nice, upstanding individual with a long record. We’ll have to see if she can actually switch and represent the policies and platforms that our party embraces, so it’s a big test for the next two years.”
Addiego left the Republican party on Monday and announced she would begin caucusing with the Democrats.
She said Senate President Steve Sweeney’s policies played a major role in her decision, but others have charged her defection has more to do with the growing Democratic presence in Burlington County.
The eighth legislative district, which Addiego represents, falls almost entirely within Burlington.
Evesham falls somewhere in the middle.
“It’s not ‘closed-arms,’” Warren said of Addiego’s reception. “The truth is we have prided ourselves as a party these past four years — as we’ve grown — as being very open and welcoming to people no matter what because in the end we are working on improving our organization within the town, and our town has a history of electing republicans, and only recently has it started to turn in our favor.”
Evesham Democrats have been at odds with Addiego in the past, including last year, when she endorsed Republican mayoral candidate Steven Zeuli, a former Evesham councilman who lost to Democratic Mayor Jaclyn Veasy.
The short of it is Addiego will have to earn her keep and demonstrate that she’s a Democrat in more than name only.
“Are we going to pretend she’s not there? No, but she’s got a lot to prove if she wants to be a member of our party,” Warren said.