One of our members suggested that I share this November 9, 2022 email from Atlantic County Democratic Committee Chairman Michael Suleiman to “Fellow Democrats” explaining their success in Atlantic County last Tuesday:
“Fellow Democrats: I wanted to give you an update on Election Day in Atlantic County. We have a lot to be proud of and some areas to continue improving upon going forward.
“The Atlantic County Clerk’s website has the most up-to-date results. You’ll need to manually add early vote and mail-in totals to the machine counts. The results The Press of Atlantic City is reporting are wrong because they only include machine totals.
“I’m proud to report that Commissioner Ernest Coursey won a decisive victory in a much more competitive district. As you recall, earlier this year I spearheaded an effort to undo the racial gerrymandering in Atlantic County and to unpack Atlantic City and Pleasantville in two separate county commissioner districts. Despite holding a very safe seat, Ernest selflessly agreed to adopt a much more competitive district for the good of our party. When we won the redistricting fight, I made a commitment to Ernest and leaders in the African-American, Latino, and South Asian communities that we would protect Ernest and future minority representation in District 1. Our analysis determined that even in a really bad year like 2021, when Governor Murphy lost Atlantic County by 11 points, this was still a D+11. In another heavy Republican year where Jeff Van Drew won Atlantic County by 12 points, our analysis was correct: Ernest still won by a whopping 11 points. Make no mistake: this election proves our map works. District 1 is solidly Democratic, and we have a golden opportunity to win the new Pleasantville-based District 2 in 2024.
“I’m also proud to announce that Vice Chairwoman Thelma Witherspoon pulled off an upset victory in Hamilton Township, defeating the popular incumbent mayor. We still have very tight municipal races in Egg Harbor City and Somers Point, so we are not ready to call either of those races. I have been advised that there are less than 1,000 mail-in ballots that need to be counted, and as of this writing we don’t know how many provisional ballots there are to be counted next week. As you know, state law allows mail-in ballots that were postmarked on or before Election Day to arrive no later than next Tuesday and still be counted. As always, we will keep you abreast whenever we hear anything.
“I want to commend Habib Rehman and Kathleen Galante for running great races for County Commissioner. Habib was the first South Asian candidate for county office in Atlantic County history, and we’re proud to support him and the South Asian community as they continue to become powerful forces in Atlantic County politics. Kathleen Galante started as a replacement candidate and ended up being an energetic hard worker who helped to rejuvenate the Democratic Party in Brigantine. Both Habib and Kathleen are great people and have bright futures in our party.
“When he first announced his candidacy over a year ago, Tim Alexander started out with little name recognition and no money. Since then, he built a grassroots campaign that resonated with the voters of southern New Jersey. Despite the caliber of candidate we had in Tim, CD2 has always been difficult terrain. Amy Kennedy spent $5 million and still lost by six points, and this recent redistricting, which saw much more Ocean County added to the district, put us behind the Eight Ball. Despite being the underdog, Tim Alexander did a tremendous job and has a bright future should he seek another run for elected office.
“As we know, last year was a bloodbath, but what did we do after that? We regrouped and we rebuilt. We created caucuses, passed a fairer redistricting map, refocused on mail-in voting, and grew party membership. The fruits of our labor since November 3, 2021 have paid off. While most were expecting a red wave, it was met with a blue wall.
“I want to thank our great team of voter protection attorneys who did an excellent job of putting out fires and protecting the right to vote: Elliott Almanza, Rob Herman, Colin Bell, Jonathan Diego, Gabrielle deSorte, Liz Casey, Brian Howell, Tony Morgano, and Ed Weinstock. I want to commend our great “war room” staff: Terri Baker, Anthony Angelozzi, Walead Abdrabouh, Sam Bender, Alex Krasutsky, Emily McGrath, and Butch Burroughs. I want to thank my consultants for great paid communications this year: Superior Blue Strategies, Fuerza Strategy Group, Royal Printing, Resonance Campaigns, and the Sexton Group. Thank you to our friends and allies in organized labor, especially IBEW Local 351, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 322, AFSCME District Council 63, the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, Laborers Local 172, the New Jersey Education Association, Glaziers District Council 21, Stockton Federation of Teachers, and others. Thanks to our team at the Board of Elections for a job well done: Bill Sacchinelli, John Mooney, and Creed Pogue. Kudos to Maureen Bugdon and Audrey Miles at the Superintendent of Elections office for assisting us greatly on Election Day, especially with electronic poll book data. Additional thanks to Mickey Quinn, Kinn Badger, Dave Parano, Megan Wolf, Julia Hunter, the ACDC Executive Board, and our Municipal Chairs (I’m certainly missing a lot of people so my apologies). Thank you to everyone who knocked on a door, made a phone call, hosted a meet and greet, or donated money to our candidates this year.
“The 2023 election starts today. We have a prime opportunity to turn LD2 blue, but we need to get back to basics: we need to double down on getting Democrats to return their mail-in ballots, as there were way too many unreturned Democratic ballots, and we need to start knocking on doors again. While protests and marches offer short-term gratification, they do nothing to get voters off the sidelines to cast a ballot or to join a municipal Democratic club. Direct voter contact helped us win in tough races like Ernest’s and Thelma’s, but if we want to keep that up and fortify our blue wall, we need to continue to do that.
“Thank you for your support of our Democratic Party. Get some rest, and please join us at the League of Municipalities next week for our reception at Hayday Coffee.
Sincerely, Chairman Michael Suleiman”
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