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Assemblyman John Armato.

LD2 Dems hold staggering resource lead

Some GOP leaders have written off the race

By Nikita Biryukov, October 25 2019 6:14 pm

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Democrats are hammering Republicans on the air and in mailboxes in an unexpectedly-sleepy second district Assembly race.

The campaign of Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato have sent out 12 mailers, with another 15 or 20 coming out from the General Majority PAC, a dark-money group backed by South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross.

By contrast, Republicans John Risley, an Atlantic County freeholder, and Philip Guenther, a former Brigantine mayor, have sent out a single mailer, which reminds voters to send in their mail-in ballots.

Democrats are leading there too. Friday morning, 2,333 Democrats had sent in their mail-in ballots, while 1,508 Republicans have done the same, as have 661 unaffiliated voters.

Most of the district’s vote by mail ballots went a couple of weeks late because of a printing problem.

Both sets of candidates are up on TV. The Republicans have launched a single ad that also ran on radio, while the Democrats have put two ads up on television and are working on their final ad of the race.

By all accounts, the race in the second legislative district has proven far sleepier than expected.

Two Republican leaders familiar with the race who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they have written off the race in the second district, and the party’s resources have followed.

“I’m not sure where the Republican leaders that you talk to are getting their information, but the impression and the data shows a pathway to victory,” Guenther said. “I think they’re doing what they can given the fact that they’re in the minority, and they have been helpful in terms of providing not only financial support but other resources to us as well.”

Republicans have backed off of offensives in some other competitive districts, like the 11th, preferring to put their money behind defending incumbents’ seats in districts like the 21st and 25th and 1st, where Cumberland County Republican Chairman is running for State Senate.

Despite the clear resource disadvantage, the Guenther sees the race as winnable.

With Assembly candidates at the top of the ticket, turnout is expected to be low in 2019.

That means the race is easier to swing with a bump in voter enthusiasm like the one the district’s Republicans are looking to create.

“It’s very clear. We have the data to support it. People who understand the issues definitely break towards us, so that has been our job to educate the voters about the issues,” Guenther said. “The other thing that we know is that this is a typically low turnout election, and our path to victory is turning out like-minded voters and hopefully getting Republicans to come out to the polls.”

The Democratic incumbents have largely finished with events for the cycle and have focused almost completely on canvassing in the closing weeks of the election.

The Republicans are following a similar line, though they still have some events slated for the coming days.

“We’re going to continue working to reach as many voters as we can, and we have an outreach that includes not just knocking on doors but using whatever resources we can to turn enough people out, Guenther said. “The response that we have received is very positive.”

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