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Former Galloway Mayor Don Purdy. (Photo: Don Purdy).

Purdy will challenge Davis for Atlantic GOP chairman, Hurley reports

Polistina says he hasn’t endorsed anyone

By David Wildstein, March 14 2022 2:13 pm

Keith Davis, who has been the Atlantic County GOP Chairman for sixteen years, will face a challenge from former Galloway Mayor Donald Purdy, according to WPG Talk Radio host Harry Hurley.

Purdy is allied with the new state senator from Atlantic County, Vincent Polistina (R-Egg Harbor Township), but Polistina isn’t ready to say who he is supporting.

“I haven’t officially endorsed anyone for anything at this point.  I appreciate Chairman Davis’s efforts over the last 16 years but have heard from many elected officials, club members and county committee people that they think getting more people involved in the Atlantic County Republican Organization would help the organization,” Polistina told the New Jersey Globe.  “I’m inclined to agree that after the excitement of our victories last year a change would continue our momentum.”

Davis is an ally of Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson.

Hamilton Mayor Charles Cain endorsed Purdy on Hurley’s radio show this morning.

“A mood presently exists in Atlantic County Republican circles that it’s time for a change,” Hurley said.  It’s unusual to say this, but Purdy is the strong favorite at this time.  Typically, at the early juncture of a contest phase such as this, things normally favor the incumbent.”

But Davis said the results of the 2021 election – Jack Ciattarelli carried Atlantic County, Republicans picked up the county clerk seat, won 70% of municipal offices, and swept the three legislative seats for the first time since 2005 – show that the county GOP organization is in good shape.

“I’m not going to let it distract me from doing my job this year,” Davis said in response to the challenge from Purdy.  “We’re doing better than we ever have.”

Ciattarelli won Atlantic County by 9,241 votes, an 11-point, 55%-44% win.  In 2017, Murphy amassed  an 8,496-vote plurality in Atlantic, 55%-42%.

Davis said he’s ready to support Ciattarelli for governor again in 2025.

“I’ve been in his column 100% and he’s been supportive of his,” Davis said.  “He’s who I endorse.”

Polistina and Davis have been in opposite camps for years and the two nearly ran against each other in 2014.

Last year, Davis had initially backed former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian for the State Senate seat after State Sen. Chris Brown (R-Ventnor) announced he would not seek re-election to a second term.   After Polistina, an ex-assemblyman, joined the Senate race, Guardian instead switched to a bid for State Assembly.

Polistina defeated Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-Northfield) last year despite an onslaught of funding from South Jersey Democrats.  Guardian and Claire Swift, a former deputy state attorney general, won the two 2nd legislative district Assembly seats.

Davis has served as county chairman since 2005 and spent four years as chairman of the New Jersey Republican County Chairman’s Association – the chair of the chairs.  He helped Brown unseat incumbent State Sen. Colin Bell, giving the GOP the Atlantic County Senate seat for the first time since 2007.

Purdy spent eight years in local government, seven as mayor, before losing in 2017.   He had entered the race to take on Davis four years ago, but withdrew.

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