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Atlantic City Democrats set to endorse in 2nd district House race

Callaway machine controls a block of votes for Atlantic County Democratic line

By David Wildstein, January 17 2020 4:54 pm

The Atlantic City Democratic Committee will meet on Monday night to endorse a candidate for Congress in the 2nd district, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

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

Front-runner Brigid Callahan Harrison 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.

There is some speculation that the Callaway machine could back Amy Kennedy, a former public school teacher and mental health advocate whose father, Jerry Savell, is a former Atlantic County freeholder.

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 would not win Democratic Party support for re-election if he continued to support Trump.

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