Victor Carmona, a Pleasantville councilman, is expected to win the Atlantic County Democratic organization line for State Senate in the 2nd district against freshman Republican Vincent Polistina (R-Pleasantville) in a legislative district that has been competitive in most elections for the last 52 years.
The 65-year-old businessman won a city council seat in 2017 after defeating interim incumbent Gus Harmon, 80, in the Democratic primary. Harmon had been appointed to the seat in October 2011 after his brother, Johnson Harmon, died in office.
Carmona will run on a Democratic ticket with two Assembly candidates: Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick (D-Northfield) and newcomer Alphonso Harrell, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran-turned-Kindergarten teacher. They will face incumbents Don Guardian (R-Atlantic City) and Claire Swift (R-Margate).
Democrats had been searching for a candidate into last week to take on Polistina, a former assemblyman who captured the Senate seat after Christopher Brown (R-Ventnor) resigned to take a post in Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration.
The Atlantic County-based Senate seat has seesawed between the two parties since Democrat Joseph McGahn (R-Margate) scored an upset victory against the legendary Frank “Hap Farley (R-Ventnor), a 31-year incumbent, in 1971. Republicans recaptured the seat in 1982, Democrats won it in 2007, and the GOP won it back in 2017.
The 2nd is a swing district. Joe Biden won it by 12 points in 2020, but in the New Jersey Governor’s race the following year, Republican Jack Ciattarelli carried it against Murphy by five points.
Polistina held the seat by a 52%-48% margin against Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-Northfield). Guardian and Swift flipped the two Assembly seats, with two-term incumbent John Armato and Fitzpatrick losing.