Former Assemblyman Matthew Milam (D-Vineland) will return to the Legislature sometime in the next few weeks, two sources confirmed tonight.
Milam will fill the vacant 1st district seat of Bob Andrzejczak (D-Middle), who resigned from the Assembly on Tuesday to join the State Senate. Andrzejczak replaced Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis), who left the Senate to take his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cumberland County Freeholder Jim Quinn, who had the backing of his home county Democratic organization, is dropping out of the race to succeed Andrzejczak. Milam is expected to run unopposed in a special election convention to be held next week or the week after.
Van Drew pushed hard for Milam, who was elected to the Assembly in 2007 and served until his resignation in March 2013. Andrzejczak won a special election convention to fill that seat.
Sources say that Quinn, a former Millville mayor, could still be in the mix for an Assembly seat if party leaders decide to nudge two-term Assemblyman Bruce Land into retirement.
Milam serve the remaining eleven months of Andrzejczak’s term. He is expected to be the Democratic candidate for a full two-year term in November 2019.
Republicans are expected to make a big play for the two 1st district Assembly seats in the fall.
So far, Downe mayor Robert Campbell and Darwin Cooper, Jr., a conservative activist who worked on Seth Grossman’s 2018 congressional race, are the only announced Assembly candidates.
Campbell ran for Assembly in 2017 and lost to Andrzejczak by 12,304 votes with a fourth place finish. He also lost a bid for State Senate in the 2013 Republican primary, losing by an 84%-16% margin.
The district includes all of Cape May, part of Cumberland (including Vineland), and three towns in Atlantic. Donald Trump won 55% in the 1st district in 2016. Republicans have a slight advantage in voter registration – 44,004 to 40,159, with 62,695 unaffiliated voters.
Two Republicans are in the race to challenge Andrzejczak in November special election for State Senate: Cumberland County GOP chairman Michael Testa, Jr. and Fiocchi. The two faced off last June in a race for county chairman, while Testa won easily. That contest came one week after Fiocchi lost the Republican congressional primary to Grossman.
The 57-year-old Milam left the Assembly six years ago because of time restraints at the bulk hauling business he runs.
Andrzejczak was elected to a full term in the Assembly in 2013, but his running mate, Nelson Albano (D-Vineland) lost his bid for re-election to Republican Samuel Fiocchi (R-Vineland). Fiocchi was ousted two years later by Land.
Milam would increase the ranks of Hispanic legislators by one, and potentially protects the 1st district from gerrymandering if he is still in office when new districts are drawn.