Control of the Atlantic Freeholder Board could come down to a GOP-leaning district

The key battleground of the 2007 general election will be in Atlantic County, where two-term GOP County Executive Dennis Levinson faces a strong challenge from Democrat James McGettigan, the three-term Sheriff.

In the second legislative district, which includes nearly all of Atlantic County, State Senator James “Sonny” McCullough, a Republican who won a Special Election Convention to replace Bill Gormley in February, faces Democratic Assemblyman James Whelan, the former Mayor of Atlantic City.

There are two open Assembly seats in the second, where seven-term Republican Frank Blee, who lost the Senate race to McCullough and is now backing Whelan, is not seeking re-election. Republicans are running former Linwood City Councilman John Amodeo and Vincent Polistina, who runs an Egg Harbor Township engineering firm. The Democrats are Egg Harbor City Mayor Joseph Kuehner and former Claridge casino counsel Blondell Spellman.

Also at stake is control of the Atlantic County Board of Freeholders, where Republicans currently have a 5-4 majority. Two Democratic seats and one GOP seat are up this fall.

Republican Joseph McDevitt, an Atlantic City High School teacher and state Boxing Inspector, opposes Freeholder-At-Large Joseph Kelly, a Democrat seeking a second term.

In District 1, where longtime Democratic Freeholder Lawton Nelson is retiring, Democrat Charles Garrett, a South Jersey Transportation Authority official, faces Democrat-turned-Republican John Bettis, the former Pleasantville Administrator This district is reliably Democratic.

That means control of the Freeholder Board could be decided in District 4, a GOP-leaning district that has become increasingly competitive in recent years. Incumbent Sue Schilling, a Republican, is not seeking re-election; Galloway City Councilman Richard Dase is the GOP candidate against Democrat Jill Foley, a Galloway insurance agent whose former husband, Thomas Foley, served as an Assemblyman, Freeholder and Atlantic City Councilman.

The district, which includes Absecon, Brigantine, Galloway and Port Republic, gave Republican Thomas Kean, Jr. a 54%-46% win over Bob Menendez in the ’06 U.S. Senate race. In the 2005 campaign for Governor, Republican Douglas Forrester carried the district by 53 votes over Jon Corzine, and GOP Assemblyman Kirk Conover led Jim Whelan by 90 votes, 50.3% to 49.7%. In 2004, George W. Bush carried the district over John Kerry, 52%-48%.

Control of the Atlantic Freeholder Board could come down to a GOP-leaning district