It’s debate season in the N.J. governor’s race. But not for Phil Murphy.

Posted Apr 15, 2021

At least two Republicans hoping to unseat Democratic incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy in this year’s election will spar in a pair of public debates.

Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli and engineer Hirsh Singh both met the criteria to debate at dates to be announced. Ciattarelli is required to participate because he accepted two-for-one matching funds from the state and Singh raised at least $490,000 for his campaign, Election Law Enforcement Commission officials announced this week.

A third GOP hopeful, Phil Rizzo, failed to qualify for the debates but is currently appealing ELEC’s ruling.

Ciattarelli is considered the party’s favorite to clinch the nomination. He’s won support from GOP county organizations and has already focused his campaign on attacking Murphy.

Singh has run multiple failed races for office, including a U.S. Senate bid and a 2017 gubernatorial campaign. During that race, he raised $1 million — $950,000 of which was a loan from his father. His financial disclosure forms for his current race have yet to be disclosed.

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Rizzo’s campaign said in a statement he raised “well over $490,000″ in donations. But ELEC notified his campaign on Tuesday he didn’t qualify for the debates because he missed the deadline to file paperwork and that “deficiencies” were found in them, according to a letter the commission sent him.

Candidates who want to participate in public matching funds in the primary election need to raise a minimum of $490,000. They can receive up to $4.6 million in matching funds in the primary election and up to $10.5 million in the general.

By agreeing to matching funds, candidates also have to abide by other rules, including agreeing to appear in ELEC-sponsored debates.

Murphy, meanwhile, won’t have to square off against any potential rivals until after the state’s June 8 primary since two people who hoped to challenge him in the Democratic primary failed to meet requirements to appear on ballots.

Lisa McCormick and Roger Bacon filed petitions to challenge Murphy. But the state’s secretary of state agreed with two administrative law judge rulings that neither met the 1,000 signature threshold.

Bacon had submitted 1,271 signatures to the state. But a judge ruled he didn’t meet the requirement because about 280 he gathered were from registered Republicans — which is invalid for a Democratic primary. About two dozen other petitions were tossed out for other reasons.

McCormick didn’t have a single valid signature from all of the 1,951 she submitted to enter the Democratic primary, according to a ruling. The Democratic State Committee charged that McCormick’s campaign used voter data to automatically fill petitions without the voters’ knowledge.

New Jersey’s secretary of state asked the attorney general’s on Wednesday to investigate her possible fraudulent petitions.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-04-16 03:39:06 -0700