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Arnold Cream, aka Jersey Joe Wolcott, right, fights Joe Louis in 1947. (Photo: Smithsonian Institution.)

No signs of racism in Collingswood vote

Booker has won Camden suburb three times; only real loss was Jersey Joe Wolcott in 1971

By David Wildstein, May 21 2021 2:12 pm

In one of last week’s most closely-watched municipal races, an unsuccessful candidate in Collingswood suggested that the absence of a white man on their three-person slate might have been to their detriment.

“I picked my running mates because they were in advocacy for years, but we were a ticket without a white man,” one of the candidates, Kate Delaney, told local news website NJPEN. “I think that was a handicap for us.”

While there are no real signs of racism in Collingswood, where voters appear comfortable voting for a non-white candidate, there aren’t many examples of votes where the plurality went to the slate without a white man on it.

In a 2020 U.S. Senate race between two non-white candidates, incumbent Cory Booker Cory Booker carried Collingswood by a 77%-22% margin over Republican Rik Mehta.  One of the three independent candidates in that race is Hispanic, which means 98.7% of local voters did not vote for a white Senate candidate.

Booker won Collingswood with 72% against Steve Lonegan in a 2013 special election for U.S. Senate, and with 70% in 2014 against Jeff Bell.

Democrat Gilbert “Whip” Wilson, who is Black, won Collingswood in his 2018 race for Camden County Sheriff by a 79%-21% margin against former Magnolia Mayor Joe Adolf.

Barack Obama defeated John McCain in Collingwood by a 71%-28% margin in 2008 and won by a 71%-27% margin against Mitt Romney in 2012.  Obama did run with a white man in those races, vice presidential candidate Joe Biden.

In a 2014 Republican congressional primary, former Philadelphia Eagles player and sportscaster Gary Cobb, who is Black, carried Collingswood by a 52%-41% margin over a white former school board member, Claire Gustafson. The two white men in the race, Gerald McManus and Lee Lucas, combined for just 7% of the vote.

In the 2020 GOP primary for U.S. Senate, which featured two South Asian Americans, a white woman, a Latina, and a white man, 98% of the voters picked a minority candidate.  The lone white man in the race, Eugene Anagnos, finished fifth with just 2% of the vote.

The small Camden suburb that once produced a Republican governor of New Jersey, is 86% white and has never had a Black or woman mayor.  Still, the lone Black candidate, William Johnson, was the top vote-getter on an insurgent ticket that included two women.

The winning slate included two white male incumbents and a woman who was running to replace a woman.

There was one race where Collingswood voters plainly rejected a Black Democrat.  That was in the 1971 race for Camden County Sheriff, when Republican William Strang, a Camden city councilman and the grandfather of Save Jersey editor Matt Rooney, won it by 425 votes, 54%-47% against Arnold Cream.

Cream was better known as Jersey Joe Wolcott, the famed heavyweight nixing champion who fought Joe Lewis and Ezzard Charles and lost the title when he was knocked out by Rocky Marciano in 1952.

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