’09 results buoy GOP chances for ’11 Senate seat pickups

Election results in three South Jersey districts offer some hope to Republicans as they look to regain control of the State Senate in 2011, even as local powerhouse Stephen Sweeney moves closer to becoming the next Senate President.

In the Atlantic County-based District 2, freshmen GOP Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vincent Polistina won re-election by more than 10,000 votes, setting up a potentially competitive State Senate race for one of them against Democrat James Whelan in two years. Whelan ousted short-term incumbent James "Sonny" McCullough in 2007. Christopher Christie carried Atlantic County by 2,423 votes, 49%-45%; four years ago, Jon Corzine won it by 6,535, 53%-43%.

In District 4, which includes parts of Camden and Gloucester counties, Republican Domenick DiCicco won an open State Assembly seat. DiCicco immediately becomes the GOP's best hope to unseat Democrat Frederick Madden in the next election. There has been considerable speculation that Madden won't seek a third term in 2011, and that Assemblyman Paul Moriarty will run for the Senate. Christie carried the fourth district.

One of the greatest success stories for legislative Democrats was in District 1, where Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam – the number one Republican targets — were re-elected by a relatively easy margin. That strengthens the chances of Democratic State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, who ousted GOP incumbent Nicholas Asselta two years ago. But the first district remains Republican-leaning, and Christie carried it easily. ’09 results buoy GOP chances for ’11 Senate seat pickups