Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small leads with roughly 60% of the vote with one of the city’s six wards in his bid for a full term against longtime community activist Pamela Thomas-Fields, but the rest of the ballots cast in the race won’t be counted until tomorrow.
Despite his troubled past, Small managed to win support from some of the state’s most prominent Democrats, including Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, among others.
Thomas-Fields received support from Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-Newark), Booker primary challenger and longtime progressive activist Lawrence Hamm and Atlantic City powerbroker Craig Callaway.
As it wore on to its end, the primary fight became something of a bitter struggle.
Facing a candidate with the Atlantic City Democratic Organization at her back, Small aired a television ad showing Thomas-Fields endorsing him in October, when he took over for former Mayor Frank Gilliam, who resigned after pleading guilty to embezzling $87,000 from a youth basketball league he started.
Thomas-Fields, a longtime community activist, largely kept her campaign’s advertisements civil, pushing the idea that Atlantic City needed new leadership after weathering multiple crises and numerous administrations that ended in criminal charges.
She backed Small for the mayorship after Gilliam resigned — her videotaped endorsement was later used in a Small ad that Thomas-Fields called a ‘low blow’ — but later decided to run after.
The primary’s victor will face Atlantic City Republican Club vice chairman Thomas Forkin in November. The Democrat is heavily favored to win the race.