If Sonya Harris is elected Atlantic County Clerk, she will become just the third African American — and the first African American woman — to win election to a countywide constitutional office as a Republican. The first was Earl Harris, a longtime Newark City Councilman who had started out as a Republican before switching to the Democratic Party, returned to the GOP in 1986 and was elected Essex County Surrogate. The second was Gary Daniel was elected Burlington County Sheriff in 1995. Harris, a widowed mother of two, has been the Deputy Clerk of the Atlantic County Board of Freeholders since 2000. She entered the race against incumbent Michael Garvin, who dropped his bid for re-election last week. Atlantic County is one of the few places in New Jersey where countywide races remain competitive. (The others: Cumberland and Salem — and maybe Bergen). For trivia buffs: the first African American to win election to the New Jersey Legislature was a Republican. Walter Gilbert Alexander, a physician from Orange, was elected to the State Assembly in 1920.