ATLANTIC CITY — Two powerful state Democratic officials urged the local party Monday to get out the vote for Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, and Assembly candidates Alisa Cooper and Damon Tyner.

Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono and Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, chairman of the state Democratic Committee, attended the evening rally for what is one of the marquee races for the state Legislature: the 2nd Legislative District.

Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Patrick D’Arcy encouraged people to talk to friends and neighbors, saying many people, focused on presidential candidates, remained unaware there was a state election planned this year.

Local Republicans have had similar, if lower-key events for campaign staff, featuring Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, among others. Republicans also said Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to attend a Somers Point fundraiser for local candidates on Oct. 20.

Monday’s rally was originally scheduled to include Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, Passaic, but both cancelled at the last minute.

But the presence of Buono and Wisniewski, both D-Middlesex, underscored the importance of the race for Democrats, one of the most competitive in the state, as the campaign heads into the final month.

As chairman, Wisniewski controls the state party committee’s purse strings, and Buono controls her own legislative leadership committee fund, just as  Sweeney and Oliver do. Under state election law, there is no limit to how much these committees can contribute to local races.

Wisniewski and Buono pledged their support, focusing mainly on Whelan, and supported him on women’s health issues, economic opportunities, and taxing wealthier residents.

Buono said the district was in the “cross hairs of the Republican Party” and worked to tie the unmentioned Republican candidates to Christie. Added Wisniewski, “We need three Democrats representing the district.”

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