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Former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian to run for state Senate after Brown bows out
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Former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian to run for state Senate after Brown bows out


Former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian briefly flirted with the idea of running for state Senate instead of Assembly.

Former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said Thursday night he will seek the Republican nomination for state Senate in the 2nd Legislative District, which covers most of Atlantic County.

Guardian had recently announced a run for Assembly where he intended to help state Sen. Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, with his work in the Legislature. But after Brown announced Thursday he will not run for re-election, Guardian decided to run for Senate instead.

“Sen. Brown is a tremendous leader, and he leaves big shoes to fill,” Guardian said in a statement released Thursday night. “I will work extremely hard to live up to the high standard of public service that Sen. Brown has set for us.”

In the statement, Guardian thanked Brown and former state Sen. Bill Gormley, among others, for encouraging him to run.

Guardian said his time as mayor of Atlantic City and as business administrator in Toms River has given him “tremendous experience in municipal government, and will allow me to be a stronger voice for South Jersey in Trenton.”

Guardian dealt with five casino closings and a controversial state takeover of the city while in office from 2014 to 2017.

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He was the city’s first openly gay mayor, known for wearing bow ties and for his friendly demeanor. He remains an Atlantic City resident.

With a state Senate seat open, creating a new opportunity for both parties, the race in the 2nd District is likely to be hard fought and expensive, said John Froonjian, executive director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University.

Former Assemblyman Ken LeFevre and Atlantic County GOP Chairman Keith Davis are also considering runs, and many other Republicans are thought to be considering it.

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, also said Thursday he is considering running for Senate instead of for reelection to the Assembly.

Every seat in the state Legislature — 40 in the Senate and 80 in the Assembly — is on the ballot in 2021.

Guardian was mayor of Atlantic City when the city’s finances were at their lowest due to decades of mismanagement compounded by an explosion of competition in nearby states for gaming dollars. He clashed with then Gov. Chris Christie, a fellow Republican, over the 2016 takeover, at one point calling Christie an enemy of civil rights.

Prior to being mayor, Guardian was executive director of Atlantic City’s Special Improvement District. After leaving the Mayor’s Office, he became township administrator in Toms River.

“We need a stronger voice and representation for our residents and businesses in Legislative District 2 during this tremendously difficult time,” Guardian said. “I am prepared to be that voice.”

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post: 609-272-7219

Twitter @MichelleBPost

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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