Gormley’s resignation triggers chain reaction of February campaigns

The resignation of Bill Gormley from the State Senate on February 15 is not a surprise; he had let Atlantic County Republicans in on his plan earlier this month. People who know Gormley say that he is not exactly a lame duck kind of guy, and the early exit starts the clock on his two-year ban from working for Atlantic City casinos. Republicans will hold a Special Election Convention between 7 and 35 days of his resignation to elect a new Senator, who will serve the remaining eleven months of Gormley’s term. Assembly Minority Whip Frank Blee is the leading contender for the seat, and party insiders say that a convention is a better venue for Blee than a primary; he is facing Egg Harbor Mayor Sonny McCullough, who has the support of Congressman Frank LoBiondo. McCullough has not decided whether he will challenge Blee at the convention. If Blee goes to the Senate early, Republicans would hold a second Special Election Convention to fill his vacant Assembly seat. The leading candidate to replace him is Brigantine Mayor Philip Guenther. One Republican leader says that the GOP should consider replacing Blee with McCullough in order to prevent a contested Senate race. Republicans will still need to recruit a second Assembly candidate to run in November. Democrats are expected to run Assemblyman James Whelan for Senate; they will also need two Assembly candidates. Blee’s resignation will also trigger a contest for his post as the Assembly Minority Whip. Eric Munoz, the Deputy Conference Leader, is next in line, but could some Trenton insiders say that his promotion is hardly automatic. Kevin O’Toole and Alison McHose are among the possible candidates.

Gormley’s resignation triggers chain reaction of February campaigns