Reelection Of Conaway, Conners A Rare Repeat In Seventh District For The First Time In Years, Both Assembly Incumbents Won. Willingboro Was Key To The Democrats' Success.

Posted: November 04, 1999

At a glance, it might look as if nothing has changed in the Seventh District.

Assemblymen Herb Conaway and Jack Conners will keep their seats in the legislature.

Gary Daniels will serve out the two years left in his term as Burlington County sheriff.

The lawsuit that Daniels filed against the two incumbents last week in connection with a campaign flyer is still pending.

But for the first time this decade, the voters in the finicky district are sending their representatives back to Trenton for a second term. The Democrats will return with a term of experience and a list of legislative priorities. And Daniels and GOP running mate Clara Ruvolo gave the incumbents a run for their money - literally - that increased Daniels' name recognition in the district should he choose to run for legislative office again.

FOR THE RECORD - CLEARING THE RECORD, PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 5, 1999, FOLLOWS: A story Thursday incorrectly reported the margins by which Republicans Gary Daniels and Clara Ruvolo lost in their bid to win the two Seventh District Assembly seats. According to unofficial returns from the state, Daniels received 4,405 fewer votes than the second-place Democrat and Ruvolo got 5,137 fewer.

The final reports are not due for several weeks, but both camps have reported more than $160,000 in campaign donations, and both bought time on Philadelphia television stations in the final stretch.

Daniels said he had not made any decisions about future election bids yet.

"Right now, I can only concentrate on the here and now," he said yesterday.

"I don't think you ever expect to lose. It was an uphill battle in a predominantly Democratic district."

Daniels lost to the Democrats by about 2,000 votes, and Ruvolo lost by about 2,500. The Republicans dominated in Cinnaminson, Delran, Mount Holly and Westampton, but fell to heavily Democratic voting blocs in Pennsauken and Willingboro.

The number of votes separating Daniels and Conaway in Willingboro equaled more than the 2,044 votes separating them in the final tally. Conaway and Conners took Willingboro by a ratio of almost 4-1.

Both camps knew what those Willingboro votes meant on election night. The Democrats greeted the numbers with cheers. The Republicans began to pack up for the night.

Conaway campaigned solo for the Democrats in the days before the election while Conners spent time with family after his father's death.

"We had spent a good deal of time on making sure that everything . . . was ready to go," Conaway said.

But instead of celebrating yesterday, the two assemblymen attended the funeral.

Health-care issues top their priorities when the Assembly reconvenes in early January. During the campaign, they touted a five-point senior plan that includes legislation for a prescription tax credit, senior programs, and background checks for nursing-home employees.

Although Medicare payments are actually under federal jurisdiction, Conaway said he and Conners planned to be advocates for concerned seniors. Conaway said they would work on a petition to allow states to get involved in the Medicare issue. If that is not successful, he said, they will work with federal lawmakers to promote government assistance in lowering premiums.

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