Former assembly candidate Norris Clark has not completely ruled out running to fill a vacancy in the 1st Legislative District, but he acknowledged facing several serious obstacles to making another go for it.
Citing business obligations, Upper Township Committeeman Frank Conrad dropped out of the race over the weekend, leaving Dennis Township attorney Michael Donohue, who ran with Clark in 2007, as the only remaining candidate in what is expected to be the most competitive district in the state. Although Clark talked to Cape May County Republican Chairman David Von Savage about running after hearing of the vacancy, Ocean City GOP Chair John McCann had already started rolling up support and important endorsements.
“I have never stopped considering another run for Assembly, as I am very interested in public service, and I believe the Democrats are taking us in the wrong direction at the state level,” said Clark, who had set up an exploratory committee leading up to the election.
Clark said that there are four factors that tend against him mounting an internal campaign: his own work commitments; the lack of interest shown by Donohue in running with him again; that McCann is already “in sync” with Donohue’s campaign; and that he is interested in running for Cape May County freeholder the next time the all-Republican board has a vacancy.
“Not ruling it out just yet,” he said. “The difficulty for me is not about the nominee votes, it's about work, followed by respect for Michael [Donohue] and John [McCann].”
Clark will have to come to a decision by Friday at 4:30p.m., when letters of intent to the district’s three Republican county chairmen are due. The Cape May County Republicans and committee members from the district’s towns in Cumberland and Atlantic Counties will then each separately vote on candidates. So far, McCann is the only declared one.
Donohue, for his part, sent out a message to his Facebook supporters last night reassuring them that the vacancy would not hold up the campaign and reaffirming his support for McCann.
“This is the thrill of a campaign. Always unexpected twists and turns. Rest assured we support the process to select a new candidate and we are participating in it and supporting it all along the way,” he write. “Just so you know, by Friday we will know if anyone besides John McCann wants to get into the process. I'll be supporting John all the way and I fully expect him to be the selection. I'm not prejudging the outcome and if by some unforeseeable occurrence the outcome is different we will still be off and running. But I have done my due diligence and I believe John's strong credentials have solidified his support.”