Having changed horses in midstream, Craig Callaway this afternoon criticized the Amy Kennedy Campaign’s GOTV operation as the CD2 Democratic challenger attempts to unseat U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2).
“I think Van Drew will win and [Joe] Biden will prevail in CD2, but I think the Democrats have taken a lot of things for granted,” said Callaway, who worked for Kennedy in the primary and now is consulting for Van Drew.
What, for example, do they take for granted?
“They don’t have a street game,” said the operative, whose operation is working to harvest Atlantic City and Pleasantville votes for Van Drew.
Callaway said he expects Kennedy to have “a modest showing” in Atlantic City, “when it should have maxed out.”
There was some mild hand-wringing behind the scenes this week among Kennedy supporters that conveyed late attention to precisely Callaway’s point. But Atlantic County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Suleiman sees it differently.
“I would argue that Amy’s going to have a lot of support in urban areas,” said the chairman.
She will also find votes elsewhere in this race where President Donald Trump and Van Drew’s party switch from Democrat to Republican have created significant volatility.
“This is a big chessboard,” Suleiman said. “We’re in good shape. Clearly, part of it is the virus. But we’re going to have a robust round game. 60K people have voted already in Atlantic County. Maybe Craig’s looking at this as a traditional election and thinking there’s going to be this rush at the end. But Amy is in a good position.
“To her credit she has put together such an incredible team and campaign staff,” the chairman added. “The vote-by-mail numbers are disproportionately breaking for Democrats. Amy has expanded electorate in a way Jeff hasn’t. Remember, the most most populated town in Atlantic County is Egg Harbor Township.”
The democratic candidate will penetrate in the suburbs in a substantial way, he argued.
“Again, this is a big chessboard,” Suleiman said.
Still, though, there’s a ripple of late-game worry about overwhelming strength in a town that has long flt somewhat beat down.
“We’re hurting here,” said Callaway, alert to the persona non grata grunts out there on the horizon among Democrats who see his defection to Van Drew as the ultimate Benedict Arnold act.
“First of all, I’m a political consultant,” he said. “I’m not a Democratic or Republican consultant.
“It’s a business,” he added. “I lean toward Democrats because of my family background – my parents. But I have a lot of grievances with the party, a lot of issues that need to be resolved. A lot of racism. It’s one of the most racist political organizations around.”
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small earlier this week said the $50,000 payment from Republican Van Drew to his archrival should stick a fork in Callaway politically.
“Marty has no moral standard for me supporting Van Drew,” said the operative. “He supported [former Republican Mayor Don] Guardian – I get it, as horrible as Frank was.”
“Frank” in this case was Frank Gilliam, the Callaway-backed Democrat who beat incumbent Republican Guardian, then landed in handcuffs on corruption charges.
Small, moreover, has noted that in this instance, Trump represents a distinct threat to the people of Atlantic City, and argued that voters need to hold Van Drew accountable for parading Trump in the district.
“He is a special case,” admitted Callaway, who said he backs Biden. “But I think Van Drew will still do some good things. I would have stayed with Amy if she was honorable and truthful. Jeff? He’s honorable and truthful.”