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Atlantic County Freeholder Ashley Bennett. (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe)

Bennett suspends House campaign

Freeholder drops bid during Atlantic County convention

By Nikita Biryukov, March 08 2020 3:34 pm

Atlantic County Freeholder Ashley Bennett dropped her bid for the second congressional district’s House seat.

Bennett announced the end of her campaign in a speech at Atlantic County Democrats’ nominating convention, launching attacks at rival candidates Brigid Harrison and Amy Kennedy.

Though Bennett did not name either woman, she denounced the influence South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross and the Callaway family had on the second district’s contest.

In an interview following her speech, the freeholder clarified that she was frustrated with political pledges that called for candidates to, among other things, denounce one powerbroker or another,

“I just find it very frustrating and concerning that no one asked for a pledge to say, ‘We’re running for three reasons: to beat Jeff Van Drew, hold the House and serve the people of the district,'” Bennet said. “We’re talking all about Jeff, but we’re not talking about people who have real issues and real needs.”

Norcross is backing Harrison. Kennedy has the support of Atlantic City’s Democratic Committee, which is headed unofficially by former Atlantic City Council President Craig Callaway.

“I’m not bitter, but I am better than this,” Bennett said.

Bennett is not seeking re-election to her post on the freeholder board.

She nominated Thelma Witherspoon for that seat at Sunday’s convention.

Witherspoon was unopposed and won the county line by acclamation.

The freeholder said she does not intend to seek elected office again in the coming years.

“It’s been great, and it’s been wonderful, but it’s just one small chapter of the story that is my life,” Bennett said, adding later: “I’ve got some other stuff that I want to do. I have a degree that I’ve put on hold that I need to finish, time with family and friends and other goals and attributes that I need to attend to that don’t include elected office.”

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