Bob McDevitt will retain leadership of Atlantic City’s largest casino union.

McDevitt’s slate had about 55 percent of the vote in Friday’s Local 54 of UNITE-HERE election. In second was former ally Al Tabei, with 34 percent.

About 2,500 of the estimated 12,000 to 13,000 members cast ballots, most at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

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Ballots were not yet tallied from satellite voting places in Trenton, Cherry Hill and Chester, Pa., when the cheers erupted and a victory whistle blew inside the voting room at the Convention Center, after it became clear McDevitt’s lead was too great.

Tabei said the low voter turnout was “pathetic” and that the results of the election would be “devastating to the membership for the next three years.”

McDevitt, 51, of Atlantic City, faced three challengers to his slate, which includes current Vice President Javier Soto and Secretary-Treasurer Donna DeCaprio.

“We had a really great team this year,” McDevitt said as people hugged and congratulated one another.

He has been accused of using bully tactics but has said the workers need a leader who won’t back down. In his years as president, he has led two casino strikes: in 1999 and 2004.

In 2010, he won support as he railed against Revel, saying its state-backed tax breaks were unfair. Leading up to Friday’s election, he faced criticism for not getting the city’s 12th casino to unionize.

Tabei, 62, of Somersdale, Camden County, has tried for the presidency in 2007 and 2010, losing both times. He ran under the slogan “Unite for Change.”

He said many Revel Casino-Hotel workers have ties to Local 54, including former members, who are hesitant to join the union now because of the current leadership.

Tabei is currently fighting his own casino battle, after being fired from his job as a bartender at Bally’s Atlantic City.

Also challenging McDevitt was John Johnson, 39, of Egg Harbor Township, a Caesars Atlantic City buffet server, whose supporters wore shirts bearing his likeness. His theme was “Reform, Refocus, Reunite.” He quickly congratulated McDevitt before leaving Friday.

Caesars bellman Ken Litwak launched an independent campaign. He was the only candidate not running with a full slate of delegates, and he received only about 10 votes.

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Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.

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