N.J. Senate candidate tapped to fill out Whelan term

Democratic nomination for the seat in the spring. Bell faces Republican Chris Brown in the November election.

New Jersey Sen. Jim Whelan died last month. The rest of his term will be served by Colin Bell, a former Atlantic County freeholder who won the Democratic nomination for the seat in the spring. Bell faces Republican Chris Brown in the November election. (AP file photo)

The Atlantic County Democratic Committee has tapped former freeholder Colin Bell to fill the seat in the New Jersey Senate left vacant by last month’s death of Sen. Jim Whelan.

Bell was unopposed when he won the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District Senate race in the spring. He isn’t sure that becoming a incumbent senator for a couple of months will give him an edge over Republican candidate Chris Brown who’s now a state Assemblyman.

“I don’t know really what the electoral advantage is going to be. Frankly I haven’t really thought about that,” he said. “You know, Sen. Whelan was my mentor in politics. It’s not the way I wanted to get to this seat, but I’m just going to try to do the best that I can to carry on his legacy.”

Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin said he expects the November battle between Bell and Brown for the Senate seat will be one of the most competitive legislative races in New Jersey.

“This is a place where it can go to either party,” Dworkin said. “A lot depends on both the skills and the personal popularity of the candidates running, and we expect to see hundreds of thousands if not more than a million dollars spent on this race.”

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