Atlantic County Republicans nominated four incumbents and one newcomer without opposition at their convention Monday, the first one in years held in an Atlantic City led by a Republican mayor.
The county party also chose businessman Brian Goldberg, of West Orange, to run on its line for the heavily-contested Republican U.S. Senate nomination. U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo was also endorsed for the 2nd District Republican congressional nomination, although there still could a contest in the June primary.
Despite LoBiondo’s lack of opposition at the convention, Mike Assad, of Absecon, can get on the ballot if he gets 200 signatures of registered voters by March 31.
The convention at the Trump Taj Mahal was held in Atlantic City to honor Mayor Don Guardian as the county’s Republican of the Year, Chairman Keith Davis said.
“We’re very proud of the fact that there’s a Republican mayor committed to take the city in the right direction and to grow the party, not only in Atlantic City but in Atlantic County,” Davis said, adding that Guardian will speak at upcoming Republican events in Galloway Township and Absecon.
For the freeholder board, incumbent at-large freeholders Alex Marino, of Linwood, and John Risley, of Egg Harbor Township, were renominated without opposition.
“My professional and civic career has been devoted to public service,” Marino said. “I want to develop strategies for communities in Atlantic County to better economic opportunities for families and individuals, and make it a better place to attract new families to stay here or retirees to relocate here.”
“I have a passion for serving in government,” Risley said Tuesday. “I believe in government done right and am looking forward to a vigorous campaign.”
Pending the June primary, which will make their nominations official, Marino and Risley will face Democrats Steven J. Stokes, of Galloway Township, a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, and Mullica Township Committeewoman Barbara Rheault in November.
In the 3rd District, Egg Harbor Township Committeeman John Carman was nominated without opposition to succeed outgoing Freeholder Frank Sutton.
“I’m very honored to have the nomination, and very humbled,” Carman said. “I’m looking forward to a new challenge on the freeholder board. ... I really want to get involved in the county and do everything I can to help out there.”
Carman would face Democrat Kewy Santana, a special-education teacher from Hamilton Township, in November
Atlantic County Sheriff Frank Balles was nominated by the Republicans without opposition for a third term. He would face Democrat Dennis Munoz, a former Atlantic City police officer and Egg Harbor City councilman, for a second time.
“Basically, I want to continue to do the things we’ve been doing in the sheriff’s office and move the sheriff’s office in a forward direction,” Balles said. “I want to continue to partner with all municipalities, federal and state agencies to reduce crime here in Atlantic County.”
LoBiondo was endorsed without opposition at the convention and will appear on the ballot line in the June primary.
Bill Hughes Jr., of Northfield, was endorsed by the Atlantic County Democrats on Saturday over the other announced Democratic candidate, Dave Cole, of Gloucester County.
“I reiterate the importance of his election this year,” Davis said of LoBiondo. “Not just because he is a staunch advocate of our county and region, but his election is about whether or not Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House. If Bill Hughes succeeds, he’s going to be just another foot soldier for Nancy Pelosi.”
Assad, who challenged LoBiondo in 2012 for the Republican nomination, said in an email, “I have not participated in any of the Republican establishment county conventions. Every county Republican chairman endorsed Congressman LoBiondo in January. I’m not going to waste my time participating in a process that doesn’t even pretend to be impartial. I will compete for the only endorsement I care about — the voters of South Jersey in the Republican primary on June 3rd.”
In the U.S. Senate race to challenge Sen. Cory Booker, four candidates — Goldberg; former Conservative Party Senate candidate Rich Pezzullo, of Freehold; Ramapo College professor Murray Sabrin, of Fort Lee; and former FBI agent Bob Turkavage, of Cranford — sought the Atlantic County party’s endorsement.
Goldberg was endorsed on the second ballot, Davis said, and will appear on the Atlantic County regular Republican line on the primary ballot.
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