Listen to audio version of this article
ATLANTIC CITY – The crowds of people wearing red hats may have been gathering Tuesday about 30 miles to the south, but Amy Kennedy and Martin Luther King III welcomed quite a different crowd for a “unity lunch” at Gilchrists restaurant in this city’s historic Gardner’s Basin section.
“Obviously, the King, Kennedy legacy includes violence,” said Kennedy who is seeking the Democratic congressional nod in the Second District. The lunch included faith leaders and those whose families have been touched by gun violence.
King, Jr. journeyed from Atlanta to enjoy a lunch of clam chowder and chicken Caesar salad.
He said his goal was to help promote civility and he pointedly added that he expected the president to present an altogether different message this evening at his rally in Wildwood. King, Jr. said the nation is divided, which is something he blamed on Donald Trump.
The politics responsible for the day’s events throughout CD-2 could not have been predicted.
It all began when Congressman Jeff Van Drew, who was elected as a Democrat just 15 months ago, became a Republican last month. That so excited the president that he scheduled one of his patented rallies for Wildwood.
The chain of events also prompted Kennedy and others to seek the Democratic nod to oppose the newly-minted Republican this fall, All the Democratic candidates and their supporters plan an opposition rally of sorts Tuesday night on the Wildwood Boardwalk.
Kennedy, whose husband, Patrick, is the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, told the crowd of about 50, “We know what’s happening down in Wildwood.”
In contrast, she said all her events today are aimed to promote unity, civility and to “uplift people.”
She was speaking to the converted, so no one disagreed with the message.
But one man aptly sized up the feeling toward Van Drew.
“He betrayed us,” said Stephen Dicht of Ventnor who said he’s running for Atlantic County surrogate,
Dicht talked about how he and many other Democrats backed Van Drew over the years despite misgivings about the congressman’s commitment to liberal causes. And now he said Van Drew has essentially stabbed them in the back – all because of Trump.
“Of all people,” said Dicht in continuing disbelief. “I just don’t understand.”