Mazzeo declares candidacy for South Jersey Senate seat

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Democrat Vince Mazzeo, a two-term state Assemblyman from Atlantic County, said Thursday he would run for Senate this year to succeed retiring State Sen. Jim Whelan.

Democrat Vince Mazzeo, a two-term Assemblyman from Atlantic County, said Thursday that he would run for the state Senate this year to succeed the retiring Sen. Jim Whelan.

“Today, Atlantic County is facing historic economic challenges,” Mazzeo said in a statement. “In many ways, we stand at a crossroads, and I am committed to rolling up my sleeves as I do every day running a successful small business to do the hard work necessary to ensure our best days are ahead of us.”

Mazzeo’s expected announcement came a day after Whelan, also a Democrat, said he would not seek reelection in November. They represent the Second Legislative District, which spans parts of Atlantic County and is among the most competitive districts in New Jersey.

Mazzeo, who will turn 53 on Friday, is the owner of B.F. Mazzeo Fruit & Produce Inc., a specialty grocery store in Northfield, where he was mayor from 2007 to 2014.

On the Republican side, Assemblyman Chris A. Brown, who also represents the Second District, is considered a likely candidate for the Senate seat.

"If Assemblyman Brown enters the race, I truly hope we can have a positive dialogue on the merits of our ideas rather than resort to his gutter political tactics of 2015,” Mazzeo said, referring to the Assembly election that year.

A message left with Brown’s office wasn’t returned.