PLEASANTVILLE - Republican Assemblyman John Amodeo said that during the summer he and his Assembly running mate, Chris Brown, separated their campaign from that of their state Senate running mate, Assemblyman Vince Polistina, because of a disagreement over the negative tone.

Amodeo further distanced himself from Polistina's campaign in an interview this week with The Press of Atlantic City's editorial board.

"Well, you know its Vince's campaign." Amodeo said. "We basically started together with the same consultant, and after a period of time I brought on my own consultant because that's not the direction I wanted my campaign to go in."

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Amodeo added, "I guess in the political realm that's what has to happen to hopefully win a seat, and those are Vince's choices, not mine."

Asked about the campaign during a later editorial board meeting, Brown said, "Well, you know, everybody runs a different campaign based upon what they feel is the thing they need to do in order to be successful after listening to those around them give them advice." He said campaign questions should be put to Polistina and added he was focusing on being positive.

Polistina is challenging incumbent Sen. Jim Whelan, a Democrat, for a two-year seat in the state Legislature's upper house. The winner would represent the 2nd Legislative District, which includes most of Atlantic County. The two have waged a hard-fought campaign for one of the handful of competitive seats in the 40-seat Senate. Previous elections in the district have set records for campaign spending, as well as attracted claims of negative campaigning.

So far this year, Republicans have worked to characterize Whelan as a man working to game the state pension system, while Democrats have tried to negatively portray the public contracts awarded to Polistina's private engineering firm.

Candidates and consultants said the Republicans' campaign manager was Chris Russell, while Tim Perskie was the media manager. Both are veterans of local, state, and congressional races.

Russell has concentrated primarily on Polistina, while Perskie has focused on the Assembly candidates. Amodeo said Perskie was a college roomate of Amodeo's son John Amodeo Jr.

Perskie said this week that he communicates with Russell. Amodeo wanted his campaign run differently, Perskie said.

"He doesn't want to run a scorched-earth campaign like those that have gone on before," he said.

Russell said this week that he was proud of the campaign for Polistina and said, "We aren't attacking him (Whelan) personally - we're attacking him based on the record."

He said Whelan had a reputation as a tough campaigner, so "I think what we're doing is fighting fire with fire."

Polistina echoed that, saying Whelan had a history of running negative campaigns, so they had to compete.

"We have told the truth about Jim Whelan," Polistina said. "Some may view it as negative; I view it as telling the truth about his record."

Contact Derek Harper:

609-272-7046

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