Will Pauls

Republican freeholder candidate Will Pauls, second from the right, watches election returns Tuesday at Sandi Pointe in Somers Point.

In the two contested freeholder primaries in Atlantic County, the party-backed candidates had different outcomes.

Republican Party-backed challenger Will Pauls has defeated incumbent Freeholder Joe McDevitt for the Republican nomination for at-large Atlantic County freeholder.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party-backed 1st District candidate Pamela Fields was outpolled by challenger Ernest Coursey.

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Pauls outpolled McDevitt by an unofficial count of 7,126 to 2,920, not counting provisional and mail-in ballots.

Pauls, of Mays Landing, a business manager with Ironworkers Local 350 in Atlantic City, was nominated by the Atlantic County Republicans at their convention in March after McDevitt boycotted the gathering.

He will face Democrat Bard Shober of Ventnor, an Atlantic City attorney, for the at-large seat in November.

“I’m very humbled,” Pauls said. “I really want to thank the voters of Atlantic County. ... I’m very humbled by these kinds of numbers.”

Pauls also thanked his supporters, his friend Rory Foster, Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis and county executive Dennis Levinson.

McDevitt, unsuccessful in his bid for a third term, thanked his supporters, calling them “great, great guys and girls, real Republicans.”

“It’s very disappointing,” McDevitt said. “It’s disappointing on a lot of different levels. ... Now, the Democrats and Republicans, they mirror each other. I feel very bad for Atlantic County taxpayers today.”

“I wish Pauls well, and I wish Atlantic County well,” McDevitt said. “I’ll be watching out.”

Coursey, a former Atlantic City councilman and SJTA chairman, outpolled Main Street Atlantic City Executive Director Fields by an unofficial machine count of 1,898 to 1,709 for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Ward, which includes Pleasantville and parts of Atlantic City and Egg Harbor Township.

There were still 380 Democratic mail-in ballots in Atlantic City as well as 88 unaffiliated mail-in ballots, Board of Elections Chair Paula Dunn said.

Coursey will face Republican John Bettis, a former Pleasantville city administrator, in November. Outgoing 1st District Freeholder Charles Garrett did not seek re-election and was unsuccessful in his bid for Atlantic City mayor.

“I am certainly pleased and grateful to the voters of Atlantic County,” said Coursey, who also thanked the clergy and community leaders in all three towns who supported his candidacy. “They have come through, and in the near future I look forward to reaching out to those who did not support me to get on board for the general election. ... We will try to unify the party. When we win, we all win.”

Fields could not be reached for comment.

In the 4th District race, which was not contested in either party, Republican incumbent Rich Dase will face Democrat Brandi Endicott.

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