Second only to LD2 situated in nearby Atlantic County, this Burlington County/Hammonton (Atlantic County) based district has been THE battleground district since 2017. Democrats went for the jugular here over the last six years as Burlco solidifed as a “blue” county yet, aside from a GOP turncoat Senator (the self-serving and spineless Dawn Addiego) changing parties and briefly holding the seat until she lost re-election in 2021, the Democrats have failed miserably in their attempts to make inroads in LD8.
This suburban Philadelphia district got mildly better for Republicans in redistricting, but encouraging history and favorable mapping aren’t enough to make this South Jersey battleground a layup for Republicans in 2023…
To begin with, former Burlington County Sheriff and current state Senator Jean Stanfield isn’t seeking re-election. She’s a hard person to replace as arguably the last member of the Layton-Paulsen era Republican Party with an independent Burlington County brand. Stanfield is arguably the single biggest reason why the GOP weathered some very tough storms here over the last few cycles. Republicans do have a strong recruit as a successor, however, in Senate nominee Latham Tiver. He’s a former Burlington County freeholder (back when we still called them that) and commands formidable support from organized labor.
Secondly, Assembly GOP incumbents Brandon Umba and Mike Torrissi are winding down their first terms, and the first re-elect for freshman members is usually the most daunting one.
Third, not all the organized labor is on Tiver’s side. Building Trades President Bill Mullen is on the record opposing Tiver. It’s a rather idiotic move if we do say so ourselves, Save Jerseyans, considering Tiver is himself a Building Trades member. The reason for Mullen’s betrayal? South Jersey Democrat power politics. Bill Mullen is little more than a puppet of the defeated but still influential former Senate President, Steve Sweeney, who is inserting himself into a few legislative battles this fall. But endorsements only get you so far. Is Mullen prepared to invest money in LD8? Only time will tell, and that time is fast approaching…
THE BOTTOM LINE: As of this writing, I’d be fairly surprised if Tiver/Umba/Torrissi aren’t all returning to Trenton come January 2024. We need to watch what Democrat spending looks like in this district in the coming weeks (a similar story as LD2). My best guess is that when push comes to shove, Democrats just don’t have enough juice to move the needle to the extent they’d need to push it to flip these seats. This is 2023, not 2013, and the once mightly Norcross organization isn’t what it used to be. Still, you can never underestimate sleazy and well-heeled political machines like the South Jersey operation with plenty of experience winning the VBM game, the Burlington GOP is a shadow of its former glory, and contemporary LD8 is comprised of increasingly “blue” suburbs (notably Evesham) which powered Joe Biden to a decisive win here only three years ago.
Another thing: the LD8 incumbents have voted with the Murphy Administration on more than one occasion in recent memory; the likely explanation is that they, like their LD2 Republican brethren, are hoping to keep the North Jersey/Murphy Democrats from riding to the rescue of the somewhat estranged South Jersey Democrats. Will it work? Murphy is coming south for a Camden County fundraiser later this month, but the invitation suggests he’s only coming to help the incumbents plus LD4. Stay tuned.