Harry Hurley has the story right: Republican Assemblyman Frank Blee has had serious discussions with Democratic leaders about a party switch. Democratic insiders confirm that they are talking to Blee about running for re-election to an eighth term as a Democrat.
Blee lost a Special Election Convention for State Senator last month to Egg Harbor Township Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough by a 61%-39% margin. The seat was left vacant following Bill Gormley’s retirement. Both candidates had agreed not to contest the convention vote in the June GOP primary, and Blee said after the contest that he would not run for the Assembly again.
Sources confirm Hurley’s initial report that Blee expressed interest in running against McCullough as a Democrat, but was told the nomination was going to Assemblyman James Whelan, the former Mayor of Atlantic City. Blee and Whelan engaged in a bitter race for the Legislature in 2005, when Whelan ousted Blee’s running mate, Kirk Conover.
Conover was among the Republicans that quietly helped McCullough.
A Blee party-switch would increase the Democratic majority in the lower house to 50-30. Former Assemblyman Paul Amato, who ran with Blee in 2001, switched parties in 2005 after a fallout with Gormley. Blee remains a close Gormley ally.