U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s (R-2) latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) report draws a line from the
Republican incumbent’s congressional campaign to longtime Atlantic City Democratic Party operative Craig Callaway.
The report (with the itemization pictured below) shows a September 9th payment in the amount of $50,000 distributed to the mailing address of 500 Wabash Avenue.
What the payment proves is the GOTV expert Callaway’s decision to play for both teams in this oddball, COVID-19-ravaged 2020 election cycle – first for Amy Kennedy in the Democratic Primary when the organization chaired by his sister, the Atlantic City Democratic Committee – threw a critical early endorsement to Kennedy. Then in the general, after apparently colliding with the Kennedy campaign, he apparently fulfilled work for Van Drew, a former Democrat turned Republican, who is keen on harvesting votes in Atlantic County, where Kennedy expects to score big to off-set her rival’s strength in Cape May and points southwest.
“As noted by the Star Ledger Craig Callaway is a ‘master of get out the vote’ and we’re proud to have him
as a senior advisor to our campaign who is leading our community organizing and get out the vote efforts,” Van Drew Campaign Manager Ron Filan told InsiderNJ.
Kennedy has been running ahead of Van Drew, both in a Monmouth University Poll, which put her five points ahead, and according to her campaign’s own internal polling. But at the candidates’ forum hosted by NJTV and Stockton University, Van Drew said he was confident about his own campaign’s polling.
In a close contest, the Callaway factor could make a difference. But the longtime Atlantic City boss did come up short in his attempt to bump off sitting Mayor Marty Small with his own candidate, Pamela Thomas-Fields.
Kennedy has made specific efforts to connect with Small, intent on victory over his Republican opponent after winning decisively over Thomas-Fields in the primary.
Last month, in an alleyway conversation with InsiderNJ, the party leader described his efforts with the Amy Kennedy for Congress Campaign as “bumpy” during the Democratic Primary, but categorically denied either working for old pal Van Drew or working in stealth-mode to suppress the Democratic vote.
Callaway said he doesn’t like the way the Democratic Party treated his ally Durwood Pinkett. The two men backed Thomas-Fields for mayor of Atlantic City, who was beaten by Mayor Small in June. The contentiousness of that local election and bad blood between Small and Callaway – resulting finally in Small defeating Callaway’s candidate for mayor – perhaps ultimately impaired relations between Callaway and Kennedy. A source said post primary questions led allies of Kennedy to wonder if Callaway had truly put his heart into the congressional race or focused more of his energies on Thomas-Fields in an attempt to turn Small out of office.
Calls made to Callaway and the chair of the local committee, Gwen Callaway, were not immediately returned.