ATLANTIC CITY – Mayor of Atlantic City Don Guardian said yesterday that he sees no reason why he shouldn’t support fellow Republican and Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-2) in a bid for re-election that, if state Democrats get their way, may be hotly contested in 2015.
“I have no reason not to,” Guardian said of supporting Brown as he made his way through a throng of protesters holed up across the street from the Casino Reinvestment and Development Authority, where leaders and lawmakers convened yesterday for a bi-partisan summit on the future of Atlantic City. “He has played a huge part in supporting what we’re doing here, he comes to everything we want him to.”
A Republican assemblyman in an otherwise blue district, Brown is fighting for his political life amidst the recent and tumultuous developments that have rocked Atlantic City’s gaming industry, sources say. State Democrats are looking to Brown’s coveted seat to turn the entire district blue ahead of the expected retirement of Senator Jim Whelan (D-2), who could leave the legislature as early as 2017.
As part of a strategy meant to set current Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-2) up for a senate run in expectation of that retirement, Democrats want to take Brown down next year — preventing the Republican himself from vaulting to the senate by capitalizing on the power vacuum a Whelan departure would likely create.
The threat of that takeover has had Brown in high gear in recent weeks, championing grassroots efforts to keep Atlantic City’s floundering economy afloat and prevent the hemorrhaging of jobs that could result if the impending closures of Atlantic City casinos become a reality.
For his part, Guardian — who, as the first Republican mayor in Atlantic City since 1990, also finds himself a minority in Atlantic County politics — praised Brown’s efforts.
“He’s been doing a great job, he cares about the people here, and I fully expect him to do well in the future,” Guardian told PolitickerNJ.
But Whelan, grabbed by PolitickerNJ for comment as he himself was making his way through the crowd of protesters holding signs outside the CDRA, was less willing to talk politics at a time when the problems lawmakers in the district face far supersede party divisions.
All three Atlantic County pols found themselves seated at the same table yesterday during the summit inside the CDRA.
“I don’t view this in terms of political — this is people’s livelihood, careers,” Whelan said when asked how those problems, which include the impending closures of three more Atlantic City casinos, might impact the political dynamics in the district going forward. “And there’s no easy solution.”