Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Republican John Risley announces run for Assembly
top story

Republican John Risley announces run for Assembly


Members of the National Guard helped vetted 9,000 provisional ballots for the November general election. They delivered the ballots to the Atlantic County Board of Elections offices so the votes can be counted.

Republican John Risley, the vice chair of the Atlantic County Board of Commissioners who narrowly lost the 2019 2nd District Assembly race, will seek that office again this year.

He is the second Republican to announce he will run in the June primary for the right to challenge incumbent Democrats Vince Mazzeo and John Armato, both D-Atlantic.

Former GOP Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian announced his run for Assembly on Saturday.

“I’m running because we need Assembly people who will actually stand up and do something to get our economy reopened,” Risley said Tuesday in a news release announcing his candidacy.

He said Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, and the Democratically run state Legislature have treated Atlantic County the same as Bergen County and other parts of New Jersey in terms of business closures in response to COVID-19. That led to restrictions that were not necessary here, with its far smaller population and smaller coronavirus caseload, he said.

Support Local Journalism

Your subscription makes our reporting possible.

Risley also criticized Atlantic County Democratic Clerk Ed McGettigan, whose office sent the wrong ballots to some voters in Hamilton Township last year, causing the need for a special election for the District 3 commissioner race.

“Democratic Assemblymen Mazzeo and Armato quickly issued a statement calling for McGettigan’s resignation, only to pull it back,” Risley said. “If Mazzeo and Armato won’t stand up to McGettigan ... how can we expect them to stand up for us in Trenton?”

At the time they rescinded their demand that McGettigan resign, Mazzeo said they did so because they finally got a meeting with McGettigan and an explanation for what caused the mistake. Mazzeo said the two now felt the fault lies with the Statewide Voter Registration System and perhaps with a printing company.

Risley and his running mate Phil Guenther, of Brigantine, were slightly ahead of Mazzeo and Armato when the machine totals were released on election night in 2019, but after all mail-in and provisional ballots were counted, they lost the race.

After most mail-in and provisional ballots were counted, Mazzeo and Armato were ahead by 2,254 and 939 votes, respectively. They had been down by similar numbers based on machine votes only.

The Republicans conceded, but alleged the huge vote-by-mail numbers for Democrats reflected a thwarting of the will of voters.

“We feel that voters in Atlantic County were cheated out of a free and fair election, this time for state Assembly, at the hands of the Callaway organization,” Risley said of efforts by Atlantic City’s Craig Callaway to get mail-in and messenger ballots to targeted voters. “We would like to see the attorney general and the FBI investigate.”

The Democratic team got more than twice as many mail-in votes, about 5,000 each to the Republicans’ 2,400 each.

“A vote is a vote, whether it is by machine, a provisional vote or a vote-by-mail,” said Atlantic County Democratic Party Chair Michael Suleiman at the time. “There’s this notion that the proportion on a machine is supposed to match on vote by mail. That is not realistic.”

Contact: 609-272-7219

Twitter @MichelleBPost

Get Government & Politics updates in your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

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.

Related to this story

The best local coverage, unlimited

Sign up for a digital subscription to The Press of Atlantic City now and take advantage of a great offer.


Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News