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Parties set state chair elections for date before certification of State Committee elections

Republicans set filing deadline for June 10, giving winner of GOP gubernatorial primary two days to pick a state chair

By David Wildstein, June 07 2021 12:05 am

Both parties have scheduled elections for state chair for the week after the primary before the results of State Committee elections will be certified.

That’s because the statute that sets state party elections for the second Thursday after the primary contradicts a new law that moves the deadline to certify the results of Tuesday’s election to June 21.

Republicans have set their reorganization for June 15, while Democrats will meet on June 17.

In the past, Tuesday primary elections were typically certified by Friday.  Municipal chairs were elected the on Monday, and county chairs on Tuesday – exactly one week after the election.

But new election laws have pushed out the number of days a vote-by-mail ballot can be counted as long as it is postmarked by 8 PM on Election Day to six days.  There is still time after that for certain defects in the mail-in ballots – like signature matches – to be cured before the results are certified.

The legislature passed a bill last week to delay county committee reorganizations until the third Saturday after the primary to accommodate the new vote counting schedule.  It’s now up to Gov. Phil Murphy to decide if he’ll sign it.

There are just a handful of contested races for State Committeeman and State Committeewoman in the State – Democrats in Camden and Mercer. and Republicans in Essex, Mercer and Morris – but party leaders told the New Jersey Globe that they are uncomfortable with holding an election where the winners of the election are still not certified.

State Committee members traditionally ratify the choice of their gubernatorial candidate for state chairman.

Gov. Phil Murphy has already selected Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr. for the post.  That was part of a 2019 deal that allowed John Currie to keep the position and avoid a challenge from Jones.

Republicans have set a filing deadline of June 10 to submit a letter of intent to run for GOP State Chairman.

That means the winner of Tuesday’s primary will have less than 48 hours to decide on a candidate to replace Michael Lavery, who is not expected to seek re-election.

If Jack Ciattarelli is the Republican candidate for governor, there is considerable speculation that he wants retired Celgene chairman Bob Hugin to take the post.

Hugin, the party’s U.S. Senate candidate in 2018, lost a December 2020 race to Lavery by six votes after entering the race the day before the vote.  Sources close to Ciattarelli have said Hugin has not yet decided if he’ll run.

The election date is also problematic if the Republican race is close and there is no clear winner by Thursday.

Several GOP insiders told the NJ Globe that there is no guarantee that they would let Hirsh Singh pick a state party chair if he were to win an upset victory in the Republican primary.

Both parties will hold in-person elections.  Democrats will have their meeting outdoors in Asbury Park.

The filing deadline for Democratic candidates for state party chair, vice chair and other officer posts is 3 PM on June 13.

Party rules say that only qualified voting members of the Democratic State Committee may nominate a candidate.  While most candidates have no opponent, none of the winners will be certified by the filing deadline – a point when postmarked votes are still legally permitted to come in.

In a memorandum of rules for the election sent to party official, qualified voting members are defined as “a person who is elected as a member of the NJDSC in the June 8, 2021 primary as certified by State election officials, and who is seated by the Executive Committee. Seating of members is within the discretion of the Chair.”

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