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Amy Kennedy gets Atlantic City Democratic Committee endorsement
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Amy Kennedy gets Atlantic City Democratic Committee endorsement

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ATLANTIC CITY — The Atlantic City Democratic Committee voted Monday night to endorse former teacher and mental health advocate Amy Kennedy, of Brigantine, to become the Democratic challenger to U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd.

“When I announced my campaign, I wanted to show families in Atlantic City that it was possible to have a leader who stood up for them. For far too long, this community has been ignored, exploited and even abandoned by the South Jersey machine — and most recently by Jeff Van Drew. It’s time to turn things around,” Kennedy said.

The endorsement disappointed the three other Atlantic County Democratic challengers who had been given a brief time to make presentations: Longport’s Brigid Harrison, a professor of political science and law at Montclair State University; Will Cunningham, a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker now working for the House Oversight Committee in Washington, D.C.; and Ashley Bennett, an Atlantic County freeholder and social worker.

“Of course I’m disappointed not to have won the endorsement of the Callaway organization,” Harrison said Tuesday. “But I’m heartened to know I have the support of many elected leaders and county committee members from Atlantic City.”

The politically powerful Callaway family, led by former Atlantic City Councilman Craig Callaway, has great influence over the Atlantic City Democratic Committee. Craig’s sister Gwen Callaway Lewis is its president, and Craig Callaway runs a massive vote-by-mail and messenger ballot operation each election, mostly to benefit Democratic candidates.

Callaway Lewis did not respond to a request for information on why the committee chose to endorse Kennedy.

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Former FBI agent and Republican-turned-Democrat primary candidate Robert Turkavage, of Brigantine, was not invited to present, he said Tuesday.

“I wish Amy well,” he said.

“The voters haven’t decided. We’ve got a long way to go until June,” said Atlantic County Freeholder and Democratic primary candidate Ashley Bennett, who represents Egg Harbor and Hamilton townships. “Nobody has released policy positions and platforms.”

The four candidates were given three minutes to present themselves to the committee Tuesday night. Kennedy and Harrison, however, had been given a much longer amount of time at an earlier committee meeting.

Bennett said the time limitation made it difficult to properly introduce herself.

Turkavage said he and the other Atlantic County candidates will speak to Brigantine Democrats at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Brigantine Community Center, between 42nd and 43rd streets.

“We heard loudly from the 40,000 people who live in Atlantic City: You want new leadership who will be an independent voice for our district. I’d be honored to be that voice,” Kennedy said.

Contact: 609-272-7219

mpost@pressofac.com

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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