State Sen. Dawn Addiego, after eight years of serving the 8th Legislative District as a Republican, says she's switching parties.

"My core values that originally drew me to the Republican Party have not changed, but the party which once echoed the vision of Ronald Reagan no longer exists," Addiego said in a statement posted to her Facebook page Monday afternoon.

Addiego cited support for oil drilling off the New Jersey post and "tax policy which unfairly penalizes New Jersey families" as "just a few examples of a National Republican Party that has lost its way."

"After careful consideration, I have made the decision to change political affiliations. I am looking forward to working with both parties, the Governor and all legislators to make New Jersey a better place for our families," she wrote.

As a Republican senator, and an assemblywoman before that, Addiego was consistently in the minority party of a Democrat-dominated legislature. She said in her announcement her constituents "did not elect me to be content in the role of loyal opposition."

"As gridlock in Washington dominates the news, it has become increasingly clear that in order to effect change you have to be part of the discussion and not on the outside looking in," she wrote.

She said she'd worked with Democratic state Senate President Stephen Sweeney — who, with Democrats holding the legislature and the governorship, has emerged often as an adversary for fellow Democrat Murphy — on the Economic and Fiscal Policy Work Group.

Sweeney's "tireless work ethic and unparalleled success at delivering for the people of NJ and particularly South Jersey is to be admired," she wrote. "I am utterly convinced, as he is, that New Jersey’s current fiscal mess cannot be fixed by putting our heads in the sand and pretending it does not exist."

State Republican Chairman Doug Steinhardt, in a response released Monday afternoon, said South Jersey Democrats "see the writing on the wall and know they are only a few months away from being down one more Senator in LD-1."

"This move is political self-preservation by Senator Addiego and South Jersey Democrats who know every indicator south of Burlington is bad for their coalition. From losing LD-2 to Senator Brown in 2017, losing the Salem County Freeholder Board and not denting the Atlantic County Freeholder Board, to strong performances by Donald Trump and Bob Hugin in Cape May, Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester Counties, Democrats know they are staring down the barrel of more losses on their home turf," he wrote.

Responses from Addiego's followers on Facebook were almost universally critical in the first hour of her announcement.

"Guess if you can't beat them in NJ then you join them for political gain and self preservation," Eric William wrote.

From Robert Driscoll: "So you are now going to part of the New Jersey tax problem."

Michael Sawka: "She was a RINO anyway. The voting numbers are changing and she is looking at her future."

John Adam Turcich offered one of the few supportive comments: "Thank you for putting your constituents over party!"

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