Wildwood Mayor a Democrat But He’s Looking Forward to Trump Visit
The newly sworn-in mayor of Wildwood is a Democrat but says President Donald Trump's rally will be a historic one that will benefit the Jersey Shore resort municipality.
Trump will officially welcome Congressman Jeff Van Drew to the Republican party during a rally for his own presidential campaign at the Wildwood Convention Center on Jan. 28. Van Drew will ride with Trump to the event and back to Washington onboard Air Force One. The congressman also will address the rally.
As of Wednesday afternoon, a page on Trump's campaign was still accepting registrations for free tickets to attend the rally.
Mayor Pete Byron says the convention center has seating for 7,400 but final logistics have not yet been finalized.
The Democrat, who was sworn into office on New Year's Day by state Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, expects a big crowd for what he believes will be the first visit to Wildwood by a sitting president.
"I don't think it really matters if you're Republican or a Democrat or nonpartisan. I think we should just bask in this opportunity," Byron said, well aware of how polarizing the president can be.
"Trump brings out many emotions in people. He's got his supporters who are really passionate as well as the folks who do not support Trump," Byron said.
Van Drew's party switch will also create a "stir" with mixed emotions from the crowd.
Bryon expects Trump's visit to put a national spotlight on Wildwood and will be good for the businesses that are still open in the off-season. The doors will open for the rally at 3 p.m. but people with and without tickets will likely be spending much of the day in Wildwood.
Patrick Rosenello, mayor of neighboring North Wildwood, said a presidential visit is a "huge honor" regardless of the politics involved.
"Most folks I have talked with about it are excited," Rosenello said.
Democrats are gearing up for the rally too but for different reasons.
Cape May Democrats, Atlantic County Democrats and the Greater Wildwood Democratic Club are holding a rally against Trump and Van Drew outside Convention Hall.
Brendan Sciarra told NBC Philadelphia the rally gives Democrats "more ambition to fight for the 2nd Congressional [District] seat and the presidential seat."
Amy Kennedy, who announced her candidacy in the Democratic Party for Van Drew's seat, is organizing a counter-event "to show Trump and Van Drew what South Jersey is really about—not divisiveness, but unity. Not hurtful and selfish actions, but selfless actions that give back to our community."
Kennedy said all candidates running for the seat currently held by Van Drew will be able to speak at the rally.