Dems win squeaker in a tightly contested 7th Legislative District race

Democrat Herb Conaway is returning to the state Assembly and joining him will be his former aide, Troy Singleton.

Conaway, of Delanco, and Singleton, of Palmyra, beat Republicans Jim Keenan and Chris Halgas in a squeaker for the 7th Legislative District’s two seats.

According to unofficial results, Conaway was the top vote recipient with 22,558, followed by Singleton with 22,008, Keenan with 20,608 and Halgas with 20,338.

Republican Sen. Diane Allen easily won re-election in the district over Democrat Gail Cook of Beverly. Allen received 25,166 votes to Cook’s 19,279.

In the other legislative races, Republican Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego was re-elected to her 8th District seat, and GOP incumbent Scott Rudder of Medford and county Freeholder Chris Brown won the district’s Assembly seats.

Addiego ran unopposed after a federal appeals court ruled Democrat Carl Lewis was ineligible to run due to the state Constitution’s four-year residency requirement for state senators.

According to unofficial results from Burlington County, Rudder and Brown received 14,714 and 14,798 votes, respectively, to best Democrats Anita Lovely of Lumberton (9,208) and Pam Finnerty of Waterford (9,431). Marijuana activist Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion received 1,209 votes.

In the 6th District, incumbent Democrat James Beach defeated Republican Phil Mitsch to earn another term in the state Senate. Assembly Democrats Lou Greenwald and Pam Lampitt overcame challenges from Allan Richardson and Gregory Horton.

In the 9th District, incumbent Sen. Chris Connors was re-elected to another term along with Assembly incumbents Brian Rumpf and DiAnne Gove. The Republican trio defeated Democrats Dorothy Ryan, Carla Kearney and Bradley Billhimer.

In the 12th District — which is made up largely of Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean County towns plus Chesterfield, North Hanover, New Hanover, Wrightstown — the GOP slate of Samuel D. Thompson, Ronald S. Dancer and Robert D. Clifton were elected over Democrats Bob Brown, Bill Spedding and Catherine Tinney Rome.

All 120 seats in the Legislature were up for grabs, but the 7th District was considered one of the few battleground districts as the GOP attempted to eat into the Democratic majority in both the Senate and Assembly.

Allen’s victory was expected, but Conaway and Singleton were stretched to the limit by Keenan and Halgas, who likely received a boost from legislative redistricting, which added Bordentown Township, Bordentown City, Fieldsboro, Mount Laurel and Moorestown to the district and removed Mount Holly, Westampton, Maple Shade, Merchantville and Pennsauken.

Both parties invested heavily in advertising, and both sides attempted to argue that their slate was best capable of boosting jobs and addressing New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes.

Voters decided on Conaway, who has represented the largely riverfront district since 1998, and Singleton, a Willingboro native who formerly worked as an aide for Conaway as well as former Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts.

Conaway said he was pleased to be able to continue working for the district’s residents in Trenton.

“There’s a lot of work to do, particularly with health care reform and job creation and education,” Conaway said.

He also praised Singleton for his hard work during the campaign.

“The voters won’t be found wanting for effort,” Conaway said. “The kind of work ethic (Singleton) brought to the campaign is to be congratulated, and I’m sure he’ll bring the same effort to the Legislature.”

In addition to the legislative races, residents in Burlington County voted 40,378 to 24,195 in favor of a statewide ballot question to permit sports betting at New Jersey casinos and racetracks.

Although the measure passed, betting will not become legal unless the federal government lifts its ban on the practice.

David Levinsky: 609-871-8154;

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