To quote the iconic fictional character Apollo Creed, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson “has retired more political opponents than Social Security.”

There is a lot of Atlantic County “inside baseball” chatter that the County Democrats would like to run Atlantic County Sheriff Eric Scheffler against Levinson next year.

We reported late last year that Levinson will be running for re-election for another term. He handled this issue quietly, but, firmly when a “whisper campaign” was started, suggesting that he would not run again.

Levinson has won each election for Atlantic County Executive since 1999.

If past is prologue and it usually is, this would be a disastrous move for Scheffler to pursue a campaign versus Levinson.

In fairness to Scheffler, he’s not the one doing the talking right now. It’s numerous Democrat insiders who are trying to line up a challenger to take on the seemingly unbeatable Levinson.

Atlantic County Sheriff Eric Scheffler- photo.
Atlantic County Sheriff Eric Scheffler- photo.

To show what a bad idea this would be on Scheffler’s part, let’s roll our Wayback Machine to 2007.

Jim McGettigan … do you remember him? He was the highest Democrat vote-getter in Atlantic County history. He was a popular, multi-term Atlantic County Sheriff.

McGettigan was serving in an Atlantic County Constitutional office, capable of winning 3-year terms on electoral autopilot.

McGettigan described the race against a Levinson as “A free run.” After all, his Sheriff re-election bid was not until the following year.

I immediately and strenuously disagreed with McGettigan’s view. There’s no such thing as a free run. When you run and lose, it opens up doubts and problems that otherwise would not be exposed if you had stayed in your own lane.

When you try to stretch and fail, you create self-inflicted damage to your brand.

Levinson destroyed McGettigan in the election of 2007, as I openly predicted at the time would be the case.

I further predicted that after Levinson dispatched McGettigan, he would lose his Sheriff’s position in the next election cycle.

Levinson won a whopping, almost never before achieved 65 percent of the vote versus McGettigan. To give you an idea of how significant this is in the 2015 election, Levinson’s opponent, a fine gentleman named James Schroeder, III dropped out of the race long before Election Day and Levinson won 63 percent of the vote.

Yes, running essentially unopposed, Levinson received 2 percent less of the vote than he did versus McGettigan.

Levinson exposed McGettigan during the campaign of 2007 for not even knowing the amount of his own annual Sheriff Department budget. It was a 7-figure budget and McGettigan was off by substantial 7 figures in his guess upon being questioned publicly about it.

Levinson politically and electorally destroyed Jim McGettigan in 2007.

As we guaranteed, not only did Levinson beat McGettigan for County Executive as expected … Levinson softened up McGettigan for his upcoming 2008 race for Sheriff against Frank Balles.

Balles crushed McGettigan by more than15,000 votes in a wipeout, electoral landslide. Balles was a first-time candidate for elective public office. Balles is now an Atlantic County Commissioner.

After being undefeated, Jim McGettigan had now lost two consecutive county-wide races by a wide margin and he would never run for elective office ever again.

I have no doubt that Scheffler would experience a similar fate.

The Atlantic County electorate is very sophisticated. They may be willing to vote for you for one office; while seeing you completely inappropriate or unqualified for another office.

The position of Atlantic County Executive will only go to someone who the voters can envision holding this important office.

The prerequisites to hold this position requires broad skillsets that are not transferable from holding the narrow (yet important) office of Sheriff.

Let’s see if Scheffler has learned anything from a former Atlantic County Sheriff who traveled this politically risky path before him.

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