Tricia Flanagan has more than 70,000 followers on Twitter, but just 243 people signed her petition to get on the ballot for the June Republican primary in New Jersey’s 4th district.
Now she’s facing a challenge after an attorney connected to rival Mike Crispi’s campaign alleges that as many as 101 the signatures on her petition are invalid. Flanagan needs 200 legitimate signatures to be on the ballot and it will be up to a judge to decide if she’s a real candidate.
Lisa Natale-Contessa, a former Toms River school board candidate, is challenging the petitions of Flanagan and another perennial candidate, Robert Shapiro. She is represented by Giancarlo Ghione, a Crispi supporter.
In her challenge filed with the Secretary of State’s office, she claims that Flanagan’s petition signers include non-registered voters, voters who live in a different congressional district, registered Democrats, and voters who signed other petitions, including Crispi.
On Friday, Superior Court Judge Thomas Brogan allowed a Paterson mayoral candidate to remain on the ballot even though a large number of petition signatories had also signed incumbent Andre Sayegh’s petitions.
According to Sayegh’s attorney, Raj Parikh, state law dictates that any voter who signs multiple petitions should have all of their signatures invalidated, but Brogan called such a policy “nuclear.”
Shapiro made waves this week when he sought to appear on the ballot under the slogan “Let’s Go Brand*n – FJB,” an acronym for “Fuck Joe Biden.” The state Division of Elections rejected that slogan because Shapiro didn’t have Biden’s permission – he actually argued that “FJB” were just three letters – but he’s been allowed to use the slogan “Let’s Go Brand*n.”
That might be for naught. Shapiro filed with just 204 signatures. Natale-Contessa says as many as 71 of them should not be counted, but she only needs to invalidate five to force Shapiro off the ballot.
Flanagan, a frequent candidate, initially entered the 3rd district race to challenge Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) and released a race-baiting campaign video that said Kim, an Asian-American, was “not one of us.”
Kim called Flanagan’s ad “words of division, not unity” and said that he has disrespected all Asian Americans who have been told that they do not belong in America.
In December 2021, Flanagan announced that would instead challenge 21-term Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Manchester) in the 4th district.
Flanagan lives in Lawrence Township, which is in the 12th district, but four days after she switched races, her hometown was redistricted into Kim’s district.
While loud inside her internet bubble, Flanagan has not gained much traction as a congressional candidate. She reported raising a paltry $1,577 after the third quarter of 2021, despite hiring a high-profile media company, Arsenal Media Group, to produce a campaign video intended to raise money. She reported no campaign expenses or debt. That indicates that either Arsenal didn’t charge her for their production work, or that Flanagan didn’t report it.
Flanagan failed to file any reports with the Federal Election Commission for the fourth quarter of last year.