OK, folks, here's some astute political analysis that you won't get from the big boys at the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers or the Hughes Center for Public Policy at Richard Stockton College.

How, you might ask, after an exceptionally nasty campaign, will newly re-elected Democratic state Sen. Jim Whelan work with his 2nd District Republican counterparts in the Assembly - John Amodeo and Chris Brown? Will they be able to work together for the district? Or will they be at each other's throats.

Answer: Don't worry about it.

Why? Because they share the bond that's greater than all other bonds in coastal South Jersey politics. They are all former lifeguards - members of the Brotherhood of the Beach.

Whelan was a longtime Atlantic City Beach Patrol guard who won back-to-back South Jersey swimming titles in 1970-71. That makes him almost lifeguard royalty.

Amodeo was a long-time guard and competitive swimmer for the Margate City Beach Patrol.

And Brown, the pup of the bunch, is an ACBP veteran and the son of longtime ACBP Chief Art Brown, who died in 1986.

Scoff if you want. And you can be sure they don't get it in Trenton. But there is (apparently) something about sitting cheek by cheek with a fellow lifeguard for hours and hours and hours at a time, staring at the sun and the ocean, talking nonsense and busting chops, that forges a bond. It's kind of like the Marines only with more bikinis and without the shooting and dying - but lifeguards never forget their bond with fellow lifeguards, even if they worked in different towns.

And the kicker here in small-world world: Whelan and Brown ought to get along particularly well. Brown was Whelan's mascot on the beach.

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