Atlantic County voters re-elected Republican Assemblyman Chris Brown and Democratic Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo for state Assembly in the 2nd Legislative District.
Brown was the top vote-getter as of 10:06 p.m. with 15,909 votes.
Mazzeo, a former Northfield mayor, had 15,722.
Despite millions of dollars spent and a constant stream of attacks, neither Mazzeo or Brown could kick the other out of office and get their running mates elected. Mazzeo’s Democratic running mate was Atlantic County Freeholder Colin Bell, 34, an attorney and former prosecutor. Brown’s running mate was Atlantic County Freeholder Will Pauls, 59, a local labor leader.
Bell and Pauls received 15,148 and 14,251votes, respectively.
Election results are not yet official. The amount of provisional ballots cast will not be revealed until Wednesday. With Assembly seats at the top of the ticket for the first time since 1999, turnout was very low.
The campaign became centered mostly on two issues: North Jersey casinos and the Casino Property Taxation Stabilization Act, a bill Mazzeo sponsored in the Assembly that would end casino tax appeals and require casinos to make payments in lieu of taxes.
In winning re-election, Mazzeo, 51, fended off a multitude of attacks from Republicans, who said he wasn’t fighting North Jersey casinos and that his PILOT bill was giving a break to wealthy casino owners on the backs of the middle class.
But on both fronts, Mazzeo defended his record, saying he made efforts to stop North Jersey casinos and that the PILOT bill would stabilize the tax base in Atlantic City. He also pitched himself as someone who got a lot done in just his first term, getting many of his bills signed into law. Mazzeo is the first Democrat to be re-elected to the Assembly in the district since 1982.
"I'm proud that I won and I got re-elected. It says something about the work that I did in my first term," Mazzeo said. "I'm looking forward to serving again and trying to solve some of the problems that are facing Atlantic County."
Brown, 51, who campaigned as an independent thinker and a fierce opponent to North Jersey casinos, defeated a Democratic machine that spent millions of dollars in an effort to take his seat.
With the help of a Washington, D.C., super political action committee, Mazzeo and Bell had a large spending advantage over Brown and Pauls. Super PACs and campaigns cannot coordinate, but General Majority PAC spent more than $1.5 million through Oct. 23 supporting Mazzeo and Bell. The Democratic campaigns also outspent the Republicans, giving them a nearly 4-to-1 spending advantage.
But with many public events opposing North Jersey casinos and a resolution that was never introduced but was intended to scuttle a vote on casino gambling expansion, Brown convinced voters he would stand up to North Jersey interests and serve as a check and balance to his Democratic counterparts.
"I look forward to trying to work toward solutions and put the campaign behind us," Brown said. "The hard working men and women saw through the attempt to buy their vote."