After a year-long campaign that will go down as one of the most expensive elections in the state, Chris Brown defeated Colin Bell for the state Senate seat in the 2nd Legislative District.

Bell conceded shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday.

"Unfortunately it looks like we're going to come up a little bit short. I want to thank everyone in this room," Bell started his speech late Tuesday night at the Atlantic County Democratic headquarters at the Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield.

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Bell added that he still has work to do and there are still things that the late Jim Whelan started that he plans to finish before the end of his term.

But Brown may be one of the only Republican winners in a night that was dominated by Democrats around the state.

For the 2nd District Assembly seats, Vince Mazzeo and John Armato defeated Republicans Brenda Taube and Vince Sera.

Mazzeo addressed the crowd, saying it was a bittersweet win due to Bell's lost and added that Bell would have been and is a great senator. 

Mazzeo also said that he was proud to see that his hard work during the campaign had paid off. 

"It looks like we’ll have two democrats representing Atlantic County for this district and we’ll continue to make this turnaround. I’m just happy my hard work and dedication to the people is working out and we need to continue this," Mazzeo said. 

Armato said that with he and Mazzeo, the two have a passion and can make a difference in New Jersey.

Mike Suleiman, the chairman of the Atlantic County Democratic Committee, said Tuesday that while the rainy weather may have affected turnout, he was very pleased with how Democrats performed around the state.

"I do think the (2016 election) had an affect on these races, but I also think that the candidates did a great job and the party came together," he said.

The race between Bell and Brown became one of the more hotly contested in the state after Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, who originally intended to run against Brown, backed out of the race following the death of his father this summer.

Bell, meanwhile, was no stranger to Brown. They ran against each other for the Assembly in 2015, with Brown being the top vote-getter.

Brown announced his candidacy for state Senate in January, promising to fight against any possible expansion of gaming in New Jersey, pass legislation to help diversify Atlantic County’s economy, fight the opioid epidemic and fight against his own party if it was the right thing to do for constituents.

Last spring, Brown became a vocal critic of outgoing Gov. Chris Christie after the state refused to give Atlantic County a 13.5 percent share of the payments in lieu of property taxes that Atlantic City casinos make under the PILOT legislation.

He also opposed a Christie-backed bill to give the state control of the surplus from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Bell, meanwhile, gained the backing of local Democrats for his Senate run after Mazzeo dropped out and endorsed plans to raise taxes on millionaires for property tax relief, raise the minimum wage across the state, and create a Garden State Growth Zone within a one-mile radius of the Atlantic City International Airport to promote economic development and give tax incentives to prospective businesses.

He was eventually chosen by Atlantic County Democrats to fill the seat temporarily after the August death of incumbent Jim Whelan.

Bell grilled Brown throughout the campaign on his record in the state Assembly, saying he flip-flopped on the gas tax bill and voted for Christie-backed bills 90 percent of the time.

Heading into Election Day, the 2nd Legislative District had some of the most expensive races in the state, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Overall, special interest spending on legislative races shattered records in New Jersey. A full disclosure of spending on the elections won't be known for another few weeks.

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Contact: 609-272-7260

JDeRosier@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressDeRosier 

I joined The Press in January 2016 after graduating from Penn State in December 2015. I was the sports editor for The Daily Collegian on campus which covered all 31 varsity sports and several club sports.

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