First District Sen.-elect Michael Testa Jr. will be sworn in Thursday, a first step in the process of moving the state’s southernmost district to Republican control.

“The pageantry is nice. But I just want to get to work,” Testa, a Vineland attorney, said Wednesday.

Because he is filling the term of former Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, who left to join Congress in January, Testa will be sworn in before the end of this legislative season.

His running mates, Antwan McClellan, of Ocean City, and Erik Simonsen, of Lower Township, defeated incumbent Democratic assemblymen. They will not be sworn in to office until the start of the new legislative session in mid-January.

The 1st District covers Cape May and parts of Cumberland and Atlantic counties.

Testa will have a celebratory breakfast with supporters Thursday morning, then go to a budget committee meeting after officially joining the Senate, he said.

He went through orientation Tuesday with the Office of Legislative Services, he said.

The 1st District race this past election was the state’s costliest, with candidates and independent groups spending a combined $2.96 million — $1.88 million by the candidates and $1.1 million by groups — according to a Tuesday report by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Republicans swept incumbent Democrats out of office despite being outspent $1.83 million to the Republicans’ $641,000.

And Democrats had the benefit of another $1.1 million in independent spending, according to ELEC.

Testa has said he does not support a bill sponsored by his predecessor, state Sen. Bob Andrzejczak, to fund boardwalk repairs through the state Transportation Trust Fund.

Andrzejczak was a 1st District assemblyman appointed in January by his party to the open Senate seat until the next election, which was Nov. 5.

Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, will sponsor and reintroduce the bill in the next legislative session, a Sweeney spokesman has said.

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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