Democrats want D’Amato and Blee to run for Assembly

South Jersey Democrats are actively courting two former Republican legislators to challenge freshmen GOP Assemblyman John Amodeo and Vincent Polistina in the Atlantic County-based second district next year: Paul D'Amato, a former Linwood Mayor who served in the Assembly from 2002 to 2003, and Frank Blee, who retired last year after seven terms in the Assembly. D'Amato left the Legislature after feuding with then-State Sen. Bill Gormley, and switched parties in 2006. Blee broke with local Republicans in 2007 after losing a special election convention for State Senate to Sonny McCullough and backed Democrat James Whelan in the general election.

Damon Tyner, a Pleasantville attorney who ran for the Assembly in 2005, is also a possible candidate. So is Alissa Beth Cooper, a former Republican who is now seeking re-election to a second term as an Atlantic County Freeholder.

District 2 voters split their ticket in 2007, with Whelan ousting McCullough by 6,900 votes while Amodeo (26,214) and Polistina (24,603) defeated Democrats Joe Wilkins (21,699) and Blondell Spellman (19,260). Democrats want D’Amato and Blee to run for Assembly