Both of Murphy's primary opponents tossed from ballot



A woman drops her mail-in ballot into a drop box in Newark, N.J., Tuesday, July 7, 2020.


Gov. Phil Murphy will face no primary opposition after the state Democratic Party successfully challenged the petition signatures of his only two challengers.

Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Rabin ruled that none of the 1,951 candidate petition signatures submitted by Lisa McCormick, a perennial candidate who scored 38 percent of the vote in the 2018 Democratic U.S. Senate primary against Sen. Robert Menendez, were valid.

“Having seen petitioner’s accusations, respondent failed to file an answer disputing those charges, and failed to appear for a hearing in which she could have challenged those assertions,” Rabin wrote. “Even without expert testimony, it appeared to the layman’s eye as if respondent McCormick had, at the last minute, simply created a template for completing individual single signature petition forms, and merely inserted the names and addresses of miscellaneous registered Democrats into the forms.”

Democrats had challenged McCormick’s petition for, among other things, allegedly including signatures by voters who said they did not sign it as well as two dead people. Democrats said it appeared to have been made using mail-merge software, and that it had a strange statistical anomaly in which the majority of signers’ last names began with an A or B. Democrats have also sought a criminal investigation into McCormick.

Another administrative law judge, JoAnn LaSala Candido, invalidated the candidacy of challenger Roger Bacon, who did not meet the requisite 1,000 signature requirement largely because 281 of them came from registered Republicans.

What it means? Not much. McCormick’s surprising showing against Menendez in 2018 has largely been attributed to protest votes against the incumbent, who a year earlier survived a corruption trial after a jury deadlocked. In 2019, McCormick — whose boyfriend is controversial Democratic consultant James Devine — got 28 percent of the vote in her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Union County surrogate. She challenged U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12th Dist.) in the Democratic primary last year, getting just 11 percent of the vote.

Bacon, a Phillipsburg resident, has also run for office unsuccessfully several times.

Having no primary opposition whatsoever makes Murphy’s walk to the Democratic gubernatorial nomination that much easier.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-04-14 03:36:09 -0700