The Republican organizations of Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic Counties each have just over a week to pick a new running mate for assembly candidate Mike Donohue.
The organizations have set a deadline of Friday at 4:30pm to receive letters of intent from interested candidates, and each will vote separately on a candidate before by 4:30pm on Wednesday, July 1.
It remains to be seen if it will be a contest. Former candidate Frank Conrad dropped out over the weekend, leading Ocean City Republican Municipal Chairman John McCann to immediately start campaigning to replace him. McCann wrapped up an endorsement from Donohue and party officials from the district’s towns in Cumberland and Atlantic Counties, but there have been some rumblings of interest from Norris Clark, who ran in 2007.
Despite expressing interest to party leaders in Cape May, Clark has not yet filed any letters of intent or contacted officials from the other two counties. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
The 1st District is the southernmost in the state, encompassing all of Cape May County, three towns in Cumberland County (including Vineland and Millville, two of the county's three major towns) and three small towns in Atlantic County.
The selection of a candidate to replace Conrad takes on an added significance because Republicans see this traditionally right-leaning district as their best pick up opportunity in the state – especially considering Gov. Jon Corzine’s upside down approval ratings and the fact that state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis) is not on the ballot. The Assembly seats are held by the two-term Nelson Albano (D-Vineland) and freshman Matt Milam (D-Vineland), who defeated Donohue and Clark in 2007 with the help of Van Drew’s coattails.