Declaring himself to be "unbought and unbossed," Democratic Assemblyman James Whelan formally entered the race for State Senate today, announcing that he will challenge Republican incumbent James "Sonny" McCullough in November. Egg Harbor City Mayor Joseph Kuehner and former Claridge casino counsel Blondell Spellman will run for the State Assembly on Whelan's ticket.
McCullough, the Mayor of Little Egg Harbor, defeated Assembly Minority Whip Frank Blee in a February Special Election Convention for the 2nd district Senate seat. He replaced Bill Gormley, who served in the Senate from 1982 until his retirement last month. Blee has announced that he will not seek re-election to an eighth term in the Assembly, and has said he will back Whelan, the former Mayor of Atlantic City, for the Senate.
"I'm my own man and proud of my independence. I have stood up to Democrats and Republicans — even to the legislative leadership of my own party — in championing the needs of my constituents," Whelan said. "From the Wawa in Egg Harbor City to the White House sub shop in Atlantic City, people are saying 'enough is enough'."
Kuehner pledged to resign as Mayor if he wins an Assembly seat — a shot at McCullough, who is serving in both offices.
"It's time to put an end to double dipping of healthcare and pension benefits, pass mandatory sentencing for convicted public officials, take away the pension of any crooked official and reform Trenton once and for all," Kuehner said.
Republicans have not yet announced their candidates for the two open Assembly seats.