The LD2 vote tallies after VBMs showed the Democrats in the lead, with incumbent Assemblyman John Armato extending his very-close-for-comfort machine vote tally of 200 and change to 768 votes over Republican challenger John Risley. Later the Armato lead extended to 850.
At around 8:30 p.m., Atlantic County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Suleiman called it for his incumbent legislative team.
It was over.
Earlier in the evening, right after the VBM count, the tally was:
LD2 DEMOCRATS: Mazzeo 22,364, Armato 21,090
LD2 REPUBLICANS: Gunther 20,307, Risley 20,322
At that point there were 1,700 provisional ballots and change remaining to be counted but the incumbents appeared to be in control. Dems estimated they need 500 out of those provisionals to make a GOP victory impossible. It was going to happen. Just time consuming.
“Pretty insurmountable,” was the characterization of a source in the room.
UPDATE at 8:30 PM: Armato lead increased to 850 with about 1300 provisionals left. Mazzeo lead over 2,100. He won.
Then Suleiman said Armato won, too.
In the books.
In the larger, statewide scheme, the resolution of the contest in favor of the Democrats meant that the GOP officially gained two assembly seats in 2019 – Antwan McClellan and Erik Simonsen over L. Bruce Land and Matt Milam in LD1.
This LD2 contest was a race that for the most part flew under the radar of the statewide political establishment, overshadowed by LD1, which featured a senate race driving considerable interest – and a concussive outcome. Democrats, too, counted on anti-Trump sentiments statewide as a driver in other districts, especially LD21 and LD25 and, to a lesser extent, LD8, where they strove for pickups, leaving LD2 in a less spotlit condition.
But locally and district-wide the district dominated by Atlantic City maintained its usual level of intrigue, and proved very competitive, with the GOP extending their incumbent rivals past Election Day.
“Mazzeo, a Northfield produce store owner, had 24.8% of the votes cast, or 17,137; and his running mate, John Armato, a Buena Vista Township volunteer firefighter, had 23.3%, or 16,101.
“Challenger Republican Philip Guenther, the former longtime mayor of Brigantine and a school superintendent, had 25.98% of the vote, or 17,952; and his running mate John Risley, an Egg Harbor Township financial services professional, had 25.91%, or 17,906.
“The Democrats did, however, have roughly twice as many votes by mail as of Tuesday night, with Mazzeo getting 4,723 and Armato 4,503; Guenther 2,217 and Risley 2,263, according to the Board of Elections.
“With the mail-ins tallied, the two Democrats are a few hundred votes to almost 2,000 votes ahead.”