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Sarah Ann Dowling, 80, fervent Democratic campaigner, communicator and spokeswoman for NJ Gov. Jim Florio

Jan Hefler reports for

Sarah Ann Dowling of Moorestown, communications director for former New Jersey Gov. Jim Florio and an active Democratic political campaigner, died Wednesday, Dec. 20, at Jefferson University Hospital in Washington Township of a massive stroke. She was 80.

“She was very diligent, and responsible for a lot of what I was able to get done,” said Florio, a lawyer who served as the state’s 49th governor from 1990 through 1994.

Sarah Ann Dowling

“She did more than a press secretary; she was my communications person starting in 1974, when I first went to Congress,” he said. “She also had a good sense of humor and kept everyone laughing.”

Ms. Dowling helped elect Democratic freeholders, members of Congress, state legislators, governors, and presidents, said her daughter, Mary Dowling, who lives in Moorestown. “Around our house, Election Day was like Christmas. Mom just loved politics and elections.”

Born in Elizabeth, N.J., Ms. Dowling graduated from Battin High School in that city and later moved to California, where she worked on the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy. After starting a family in Los Angeles, Ms. Dowling returned to New Jersey, where she was active in numerous campaigns after working as a journalist for various print, radio, and television outlets, her daughter said.

As a single mother who raised four children, Ms. Dowling also advocated for women assuming leadership roles in politics. She was elected to the Democratic National Committee and served 16 years, and was president of the New Jersey Federation of Democratic Women.

She also was a communications specialist for the New Jersey State Senate and worked for various state party organizations and state agencies.

Ms. Dowling was always willing to help, and was very witty, said her daughter. “Anyone who needed help, she would always give it,” said Mary Dowling, adding that her mother would pitch in to clean the sidewalk of snow, drive her granddaughter to ballet classes, and do whatever else she could.

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Sarah Ann Dowling, 80, fervent Democratic campaigner, communicator and spokeswoman for NJ Gov. Jim Florio


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