ATLANTIC CITY – Even George Norcross doesn’t control the weather.
Atlantic City’s incumbent Mayor Don Guardian was cautiously optimistic despite the road blocks that kept being thrown in his way prior to Election Day. South Jersey money to his opponent, the dead allegedly voting, homeless people being paid off, not to mention the fact that the Republican party is not all that popular in New Jersey this year. All of these Guardian handled without becoming worried. Until last week.
That’s when he saw Tuesday’s weather forecast.
“We were hoping for good weather because we needed record turnout,” Guardian said, minutes after he conceded the mayor’s race to Councilman Frank Gilliam.
Instead, the skies opened starting around 1 p.m. in Atlantic City. By sunset, cold sheets of rain were blowing in bizarre angles through the dark streets of Atlantic City.
“I’m sorry that we didn’t win,” Guardian said. “I’m certainly disappointed.”
His famously buoyant energy turned down just a notch, his ever-present grin looking just the least bit strained, Guardian said the hundreds of what he said were fraudulent ballots contributed to his loss. So did the “lousy weather.”
And then there’s Norcross.
“This is absolutely Norcross’s campaign,” Guardian said of Gilliam’s run. “There’s no doubt.”
“He’s a powerful machine, he knows how to get the vote out,” Guardian said.
In an interview over the summer, Norcross said he was hoping to help Atlantic City, and in the same article Gilliam said he’d welcome it.
Local Republicans expect Norcross to come for Atlantic City’s water utility. Phil Norcross, brothere of George, is the lobbyist for New Jersey American Water.
As dejected supporters filed out of the campaign headquarters. Guardian looked back on his four years as mayor with pride. Accomplishments like balancing the budget, cutting debt, trying to wean Atlantic City off its casino revenue addiction and towards being a college town.
There are lots of exciting things planned for the next four years, Guardian said. Stockton College is scheduled to open its Atlantic City campus in the fall of 2018.
“Unfortunately, I just won’t be at the head of the city for it,” Guardian said.