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NAACP forum shows choice clear in Atlantic GOP Senate race
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NAACP forum shows choice clear in Atlantic GOP Senate race

Seth Grossman and Vince Polistina

Seth Grossman, left, and Vince Polistina are running for the Republican nomination for state Senate in the 2nd District.

The White House says President Joe Biden is awaiting an infrastructure counteroffer from Senate Republicans.

The two candidates vying for the Republican nomination for state Senate in Legislative District 2 answered the same questions quite differently in a virtual candidates forum Tuesday night held by the NAACP of Atlantic City.

Lawyer Seth Grossman and engineer Vince Polistina showed they would take very different approaches to legislating.

Republican voters will decide in the June 8 primary election who will go up against Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, for the Senate seat representing the heart of Atlantic County in the November general election.

Polistina said his focus would be on economic development through diversifying the economy.

“We have to have jobs and opportunities for the area,” Polistina said. “I will do everything I can to make sure people have opportunities ... and that tax dollars generated in Atlantic City stay in Atlantic City.”

Grossman, of Atlantic City, said his main interests are combating the rise of “woke mandates,” educating people about the greatness of America rather than focusing on historic wrongs and encouraging self-reliance rather than reliance on government.

While the United States was a slave nation during its first centuries, “310,000 white Americans died in a war to end slavery,” Grossman said.

White Christians, particularly Quakers, in South Jersey and elsewhere took great personal risks to defy the law and undermine the slave economy of the South by helping enslaved people escape through the Underground Railroad, Grossman said.

Both said they oppose the state takeover of Atlantic City. Grossman had sued to challenge the constitutionality of the payment-in-lieu of taxes plan to stabilize property tax payments for casinos. He dropped the suit due to the expense of it after Atlantic County dropped out after settling its case to get 13.5% of PILOT payments.

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“The state has a lot of challenges itself,” Polistina said. “I don’t know if the takeover role is appropriate. The state should focus on challenges the state has. The state has proven it can’t handle what they have on their plate.”

Grossman called the takeover unconstitutional and said it only kept the city from facing the poor choices it had made that led it close to financial collapse.

“The things that hurt Atlantic City most are destroying the country,” Grossman said. “(Particularly) The idea that you can spend money ... and make someone else pay for it.”

Both said recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic depends on opening up fully and ending mask mandates.

Sponsored by the NAACP of Atlantic City, the forum did not include debate-style interaction between candidates. Instead, each candidate had the same amount of time to answer the same questions posed by moderators.

Polistina had refused to participate in a planned debate sponsored by the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University and the League of Women Voters of Atlantic County, saying he did not participate in virtual debates.

The Atlantic County Republican Committee is supporting Polistina, who will run as an “Atlantic County Regular Republican.”

Grossman won the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary in 2018 but was defeated by a smaller margin than expected by then-Democrat Jeff Van Drew, who later changed parties to Republican after voting against impeaching President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives.

Grossman, whose campaign slogan is “The Real Republican Fighting ‘Woke’ Democrats,” also runs a conservative organization called Liberty and Prosperity.

He made statements in that race that got him national coverage, including saying “the whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American” when used to give supposedly less qualified applicants jobs or college admission.

“Normally I would go with the organization candidate (winning), because of the built-in advantages that go with it,” John Froonjian, executive director of the Hughes Center, has said. “This is going to be a little different.”

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:


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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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