Andrzecjzak’s appointment angered some fellow Democrats who complained that Van Drew and local party leaders had surprised them by announcing Andrzecjzak’s nomination minutes after Milam unexpectedly stepped down. Cumberland County Democratic Committee member Paul Sungenis threatened a lawsuit and quit the party in protest, causing Andrzecjzak’s backers to quickly withdraw their nomination and endorsement and instead add him to the ticket during county conventions the following month.
Republicans view the young Middle Township husband and first-time father as a potentially easy target. His vulnerability comes despite earning a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star with Valor, and almost a dozen other military awards for his time as an Army soldier in Iraq – a job that cost him part of a leg and scored him a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Running mate Albano is considered slightly less exposed, even though his ethics investigation tarnishes his record as a four-term assemblyman who serves as deputy conference leader and chairs the assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The 59-year-old shop steward from Vineland had a teenaged son killed by a drunk driver and is known for his advocacy for victims’ rights.
Andrzecjzak, Albano, and Van Drew are promoting a plan to protect South Jersey jobs, grow the state’s economy, cap state spending, bar lawmakers from accepting gifts from lobbyists, improve access to affordable healthcare, and ensure that South Jersey receives a fair share of state resources.
Van Drew, a dentist and two-term senator from Cape May Courthouse who previously served as assistant majority leader in the General Assembly, currently chairs the community and urban affairs committee, holds the title of vice-chair of the Veteran and Military Affairs Committee and is a member of the budget committee.
In addition to Adelizzi-Schmidt, he runs against Independent Tom Greto, who calls himself “an ex-Republican who’s conservative but not to the point of being extreme.” Greto, who lost a bid for the seat in the Republican primary two years ago, is a retired veteran, Lower Township committeeman, and real estate services professional who spent two years in a Pennsylvania prison in the 1990s for deceptive business practices.
The married father of two says greed and a political vendetta put him behind bars for the misdemeanor conviction and he claims to have learned some valuable lessons since then.
“I look back at that as a positive. It took me away from greed,” he said. “I picked myself up, got married, had children. Now I know a little bit about a lot of things.”
Among the things he says he knows are leadership skills, punctuality and the importance of delivering on promises. He’s championing a five-point plan to flatten income, sales, and corporate taxes; consolidate government agencies; and cut legislative paychecks by 20 percent.
None of the major-party candidates responded to repeated calls for comment.