Jim Whelan's campaign says that the arrests of five current or former Pleasantville Board of Education members today helps his campaign, but GOP State Senator James "Sonny" McCullough disagrees. Among the eleven arrested was Maurice "Pete" Callaway, the brother of jailed ex-Atlantic City Councilman Craig Callaway.
"Whelan’s been fighting these Callaway factions," said Raiyan Syed, spokesman for Whelan, a Democratic Assemblyman and former Atlantic City Mayor who is running for the Senate. "Craig Callaway’s locked up in jail and Jim Whelan’s going to be the next state senator."
McCullough says that the Callaway organization has worked on behalf of Whelan and the local Democratic Party.
“I just think people are so upset with corruption of elected officials – and these are elected officials, whether school board members or municipal council and the state assembly people," McCullough said. "They’re going to look at the makeup of the party, and quite frankly the Republican party has been really free of that here locally, and it really resonates with the Democratic party. One of our campaign issues is keep the corrupt Camden County Democratic officials out of Atlantic county. They want to defeat me and (Atlantic County Executive) Dennis Levinson and this is something people are scared of corrupt legislators.”
The Republican Senator, who won a February Special Election Convention after Bill Gormley resigned, says that corrupt politicians turn voters off. "I’m just glad that my party has been basically free of it," McCullough told PoliticsNJ.com
. "I don’t know of any elected Republican (in Atlantic County) that has been involved with it at all"
"That is something people are scared of — corrupt legislators," McCullough said.
Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Ronald Ruff says he doesn't view McCullough's comments as credible. Sonny McCullough has got to be joking," Ruff said. "When I became County Chairman, I was urged to run by Jim Whelan, and when we talked before I elected and before I ran, it was with the clear understanding, we were on total agreement with this, that the Callaway organization needed to be removed from the county party and that’s what we both have been working at.”
As an example, Ruff pointed to Jayson Adams, one of the Pleasantville officials who was arrested today. Adams had sought the Democratic nomination for Freeholder earlier this year.
“When I made the decision not to give the line to Jayson Adams at the county convention and gave it to someone who I thought better represented the next party, the next day the quote from Sonny McCullough was that I was not American for not giving Adams the line," Ruff said.
Ruff's comments caused Atlantic County GOP Chairman Keith Davis to enter the fray.
“I think it’s going to have a tremendous impact on the race, because another Callaway is named in a corruption scandal, and this is the same group of people that were responsible for Jim Whelan’s election victory in 2005," Davis said.