Singleton’s election to the Legislature’s chamber is the Willingboro native’s latest step in his rapid rise in state politics. His first job was as an aide to Assemblyman Herb Conaway and he later served as political director for Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts before winning election to the Assembly in 2011.
History was made during Tuesday’s election as Democrat Troy Singleton became the first African-American from Burlington County to win a seat in the New Jersey Senate.
But Singleton’s milestone achievement was nearly overshadowed by the razor tight contest in the neighboring 8th Legislative District, where Democrats George Youngkin, Joanne Schwartz and Mary Ann Merlino were locked in a close race with Republicans Dawn Marie Addiego, Joe Howarth and Ryan Peters.
While the Republicans declared victory late Tuesday based on their slim leads, the three Democrats were refusing to concede.
“We’re hoping for the best. It’s been a good fight,” Youngkin said just before midnight.
In the 7th District, Singleton, of Palmyra, defeated Republican John Browne for the open Senate seat of longtime Republican Diane Allen, who is retiring at the end of her term.
Singleton’s election to the Legislature’s upper chamber is the Willingboro native’s latest step in his rapid rise in state politics. His first job was as an aide to Assemblyman Herb Conaway and he later served as political director for Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts before winning election to the Assembly in 2011.
“I can’t tell you how humbling it is to have this opportunity to represent the 7th district as the first African-American in the Senate out of Burlington County. I’m speechless as to what this means,” Singleton said Tuesday night at the Democratic victory celebration at Carlucci’s in Mount Laurel.
Singleton received over 65 percent of the district vote compared to 34 percent received by Browne.
Conaway also won re-election to the Assembly, where he has served since 1998. He is joined by Mount Laurel Democrat Carol Murphy, who ran for Singleton’s open seat.
“Elections are about hope. I’m glad to be done with (campaigning)and I’m ready to get back to work,” Conaway said.
Both Democrats bested Republicans Octavia Scott and Bob Thibault.
“I’m going to work just as hard for you in Trenton and for you in Burlington County as you did for us on this campaign,” Murphy said in a speech to several hundred supporters.
She said it’s a special year for Democrats as this is the first time in more than 20 years that the 7th legislative district are all Democrats.
In the 8th District, Addiego was ahead of Youngkin by around 2,500 votes, according to the unofficial results from the Burlington, Atlantic and Camden County clerks.
Schwartz was behind Howarth and Peters by only a few hundred in the district Assembly race.
Addiego, who has served as the district’s senator, said the environment was tough for Republicans with the lopsided victory for Democratic Phil Murphy in the governor’s race.
“The governor’s numbers were not good. We were fighting that top down momentum,” Addiego said.
Neither Addiego, nor Howarth mentioned their votes last summer in support of the state’s controversial transportation funding bill that raised the gas tax but cut other state taxes and gave veterans a $3,000 deduction on their state income taxes.
Howarth said the close election wouldn’t change the way they represent the district in Trenton.
“We’re going to continue to keep doing the things we have been doing the whole time,” he said.
Peters, a former Navy SEAL and county freeholder since 2015, was a latecomer to the race. He was picked to fill the ballot spot of Republican incumbent Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, who decided not to seek re-election in late August due to her legal battle over a Mount Laurel driving while under the influence charge.
The incumbents in the other legislative districts in the county had a much easier night.
In the 12th District, incumbent Republicans Sam Thompson, Ron Dancer and Robert Clifton were re-elected over Democrats David Lande, Gene Davis and Nirav Patel.
In the 6th District, Democrats James Beach, Lou Greenwald and Pamela Lampitt easily held off challenges from Republicans Robert Shapiro, Winston Extavour and David Moy.
And in the 9th District, Republican incumbents Chris Connors, DiAnne Gove and Brian Rumpf beat Democratic challengers Brian Corley White, Jill Dobrowansky and Ryan Young.