I get it, challenging the signatures on nominating petitions is a part of political campaigns in New Jersey (and elsewhere). It’s a part of campaigns I dislike. No campaign I managed has ever challenged nominating petitions – that’s how much I despise the practice. I believe working to remove a candidate who meets the requirements to run for an office from the ballot is a gutless move that proves the person challenging signatures on a nominating petition has very little faith in their chosen candidate to win on ideas.
From my observations, over the years, it appears that more often than not challenges to nominating petitions are intra-party affairs (or is it inter, I always get the two confused) with challenges filed against competitors in a primary election like last year when a supporter of a certain someone who may or may not have led folks to believe he had access to $2 million for a congressional run got Brian Fitzherbert tossed from the primary election ballot.
But that’s not the case in Gloucester County where the County Democrats decided to attempt to deprive voters of a choice for freeholder in November. On April 3, 2019 John Alice, Counsel to the Gloucester County Democratic Committee, challenged the nominating petition of Republicans Diane M. King and Andrea K. Sammons. The challenge left King and Sammons with only 94 valid signatures removing the two from June’s primary election ballot.
So why get the Republican candidates removed from the ballot? Are the Gloucester County Democrats freeholder candidates so weak they don’t want any competition in November? I don’t even know who they’re running and don’t care because there is no way I’m voting for them.
It is possible for Republicans to win in Gloucester County? It’s happened before, remember Larry Wallace and Vince Nestore? And it can happen again. Especially against weak Democratic party candidates. Looking at some historical data one can see it can happen. In the 2014 U.S. Senate race Jeff Bell lost the county to Cory Booker, but Bell was a weak candidate with little money and still managed to earn 45% of the county-wide vote against the well-funded Booker. That same year in the CD1 Garry Cobb managed 44.78% of the vote against Congressman Donald Norcross, and Cobb, like him or not, was a horrible candidate. In 2016, President Donald Trump squeaked by Hillary Clinton county-wide 47.82% - 47.34%. Last year Bob Hugin beat U.S. Senator Bob Menendez 49.72% - 46.37% while the Republican candidates for sheriff and surrogate both received slightly more than 42% of the county-wide vote.
Trump and Hugin both won county-wide in Gloucester County and the other numbers show Republicans have a base of 42% in the county. With a little money and a solid message Republicans can win in Gloucester County. The addition of the new energy brought to the party by Chairwoman Jacci Vigilante helps too.
Diane King has run before and is popular among Republicans in Gloucester County. The addition of the Gloucester County Young Republicans Chair Andrea “Andy” Sammons as King’s running mate brings extra excitement to the ticket. So, yeah, the reason the Gloucester County Democrats decided to have the Republicans bounced from the primary election ballot is that they are afraid of competition.
All is not lost. King and Sammons can still appear on the November ballot. It’s going to require a write-in campaign in June. It’ll be a good test for Vigilante and the candidates and success can build momentum going into November.
The growing popularity of King, the excitement of a young Republican in Sammons on the ticket and the work of Vigilante in building the party in Gloucester County can only lead to good things. I have no doubt King and Sammons will appear on the ballot in November and will do my part to ensure it happens.
Gloucester County Republicans – pay attention as information will be coming soon on how to PROPERLY write-in your vote.