Diane Allen retiring from NJ Senate; 5th senator not seeking re-election
State Sen. Diane Allen is retiring from the state Senate at the end of her current term, the latest in a line of veteran lawmakers opting not to seek re-election.
Allen, 68, a former Philadelphia television news anchor and reporter, has been in the Senate since 1998 and the Legislature since 1996.
Allen, who had been diagnosed with oral cancer in 2009, cited health issues in a news release.
“It has always been my intention to run for another term in the New Jersey Senate; however, over the last few weeks I have come to realize I must face some health issues that I have been trying to ignore. Consequently, with my family’s support, I have decided to make this term my last and 2017 my last year in office," Allen said.
"I have a number of medical concerns that sometimes make it difficult for me to put in the same time and effort I have been able to expend in the past. While this is supposedly a part time position, I have never treated it as such," she said. "Fortunately, I believe I can maintain a pace to continue to serve my district this year. What I can’t imagine is adding the many extra hours a campaign would require."
At least five of the 40 state senators aren't seeking re-election. In addition to Allen, they are Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth; Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, who is running for governor; Sen. Kevin O'Toole, R-Essex; and Sen. James Whelan, D-Atlantic.
Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr., R-Union, said, "Diane Allen has been a fierce fighter for the women and children of New Jersey, a trusted leader in our caucus, and a true friend to me personally."
Gov. Chris Christie also wished Allen well in a statement that also noted she is chairwoman of the National Foundation for Women Legislators.
“Sen. Diane Allen is one of the most courageous women and most devoted public servants I have ever known. She is a role model for my daughters and should be for any woman seeking to make a positive impact in this world," Christie said.
Allen represents the 7th District, which covers 17 towns in Burlington County.
The district's two Assembly members are Democrats: Herb Conaway Jr. and Troy Singleton. Voter registration in the district favors the Democratic Party — 64,140 to 32,612 registered Republicans, as of the end of 2016. Another 62,538 are unaffiliated, with 432 people registered in third parties.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, quickly endorsed Singleton for the Senate seat.