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Amy Kennedy wins Atlantic City Democratic endorsement

First vote of 2nd district House race

By David Wildstein, January 20 2020 7:00 pm

Former public school teacher Amy Kennedy has won the endorsement of the Atlantic City Democratic Committee in her bid to become the Democratic nominee for Congress in New Jersey’ 2nd district.

No vote totals were announced.  Kennedy won on a unanimous voice vote.

“I’m so honored to receive the support of the Atlantic City Democrats tonight,” Kennedy said on Twitter.  “Atlantic City is the largest and most diverse city in South Jersey, and it’s time they have a representative in Congress that fights for their needs.”

Kennedy faces political science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison, Atlantic County freeholder Ashley Bennett, West Cape May Commissioner John Francis III, former congressional staffer Will Cunningham and retired FBI agent Bob Turkavage for the chance to take on party-switching Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis).

The controversial but powerful local organization headed by former council president Craig Callaway traditionally votes as an unbound block at Atlantic County Democratic conventions, giving their choice of candidates a significant edge in the race of the county organization line.

The New Jersey Globe reported last week that there was speculation that Kennedy, whose father is a former Atlantic County freeholder, might get the support of the Callaway machine.

Harrison, the early front-runner, has already secured county chairman endorsements in six counties – all but Atlantic and Ocean.  She has won endorsements from Atlantic County Freeholder Ernest Coursey, an Atlantic City icon, and Atlantic City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, who is also the president of the local NAACP chapter.

The Democratic municipal chair is Gwen Callaway Lewis.  More than one-third of the county committee members are said to be related to Callaway in some ways.

Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman has remained neutral in the race to unseat Jeff Van Drew, who switched parties in December after refusing to back the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Suleiman played a key role in holding Van Drew accountable for his opposition to impeachment, telling the congressman that he would not win Democratic Party support for re-election if he continued to support Trump.

This story was updated at 7:54 PM with comment from Kennedy.

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