State Sen. Jim Whelan plans to formally kick off his re-election campaign next week, at an American Legion post in Northfield.

Whelan, 64, will hold the event at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at American Legion Post 295, at 232 W. Mill Road, Democrats said in a release Friday. Whelan, whose district includes most of Atlantic County, declined substantial comment, saying he would have more to say at the event.

Whelan, a former Atlantic City councilman and three-term mayor, was elected to the state Senate in 2007 following a term in the General Assembly. Chairing the Senate's gaming committees, he also co-chaired a 2010 gaming summit and later authored the law creating the Atlantic City Tourism District.

He was re-elected in 2011, following a nasty battle with Republican Assemblyman Vince Polistina. More than $3 million were spent in the race, New Jersey's costliest legislative race ever.

Whelan faces no apparent opposition for the Democratic nomination, although nomination petitions can be turned in until 4 p.m. April 1.

Atlantic County Sheriff Frank X. Balles has announced he is running for the seat as a Republican. Balles, 50, kicked off his campaign this month by attacking Whelan over perceived failings.

Whelan is expected to run with Vince Mazzeo and Nick Russo, the respective mayors of Northfield and Longport, who are seeking the Assembly seats as Democrats. Assemblymen Chris Brown and John Amodeo, R-Atlantic, are both seeking re-election.

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