Whelan Wins Key Senate Seat In Atlantic County [AUDIO]
It was a race filled with negative ads and nasty campaigns, but in the end, incumbent democratic Senator Jim Whelan keeps his seat in Atlantic County.
Around 10 pm Tuesday night, there was simulataneous speeches, as republican Assemblyman Vince Polistina conceded in Linwood, "I enjoyed my service in Trenton. I thank you all for the honor of serving in Trenton.''
Ten miles away in Atlantic City, supporters were cheering as democratic Senator Jim Whelan was giving a victory speech, "Literally 40 years ago, I ran for freeholder at-large and lost, I got back into the ring, and frankly I haven't lost too many since," Whelan told a packed crowd at the Tun Tavern.
Whelan won 54 percent of the vote with 22,403 votes, compared to Polistina's 19,254 votes, or 46 percent.
The 63 year-old Whelan said there are big challenges ahead in the next few years. "We know that the national economy is bad, we know that New Jersey is worse and our area here was hit especially hard."
Moving forward, the democrat says the economy, Atlantic City tourism district and unemployment top his agenda. "We need to figure out how we are going to get the economy going again, not just with the casinos, but with other industries and when we get back to Trenton its time for the legislature to look at Senator Sweeney's job package and other things that we can do to get people back to work."
Whelan says he will work with Governor Christie in a bipartisan fashion. "We have done so on a number of issues including pension and benefits reform and some other measures in Atlantic City, and we will compromise when necessary."
The seat is also one of the most powerful in the state Senate. The Senator from Atlantic County has courtesty power to block a lot of gubenatorial appointments.
Republicans took both Assembly seats. Incumbent John Amodeo and running mate Chris Brown defeated two Democratic challengers, assuring that the district will remain politically split.
The 2nd District battle was the most expensive in the state, with the candidates and their Assembly running mates combining to spend more than $3 million. It was seen as one of the few legislative elections this year that could have gone either way.
Whelan is a teacher and former Atlantic City mayor who has been a state lawmaker since 2006. Polistina is an engineer who has been in the Assembly since 2008.