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US. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Deadline to challenge primary petitions is today

Some candidates cut it close on number of signatures filed

By David Wildstein, April 03 2020 8:49 am

The deadline to file challenges to nominating petitions for the June 2 primary election is at the close of business today.

Several candidates risk being tossed off the ballot simply by cutting it close on the number of signatures they filed before the March 30 filing deadline.

Petition challenges can come from their opponent, or if their rival lacks the testicular fortitude to mount the objection publicly, it will come from someone else so they can maintain deniability.

The place to watch is in the 5th district GOP congressional race, where five Republicans are looking to take on two-term Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff).

With the withdrawal of Montvale mayor Michael Ghassali on Thursday, the GOP contest is really a two-man race between former Cresskill councilman John McCann and investment banker Frank Pallotta.

McCann has the organization line in Bergen County, while Pallotta has the line in Passaic and the support of county chairman Jerry Scanlan in lineless Sussex.

Pallotta field with just 212 signatures, according to the state Division of Elections.

There is no evidence of any support for teacher James Baldini and perennial candidate Hector Castillo.

In the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, Natalie Lynn Rivera is just 28 signatures over what she needs.

As an example, if 29 signatures came from a combination of Democratic voters, non-registered New Jerseyans, out of state residents, or even someone who signed more than one petition, she could be tossed from the ballot.

A bigger question is whether anyone in the race cares if Rivera is on the ballot or not.  She has won no organization line and it doesn’t appear that she’s raising much money.

Gene Anagnos, who entered the race on filing day, filed with 1,079 signatures – 79 over the number required.  He might want to let the Secretary of State know that they have his name spelled incorrectly on their website; if he doesn’t do just that, he risks seeing the typo on the ballot after its too late to fix it.

Other candidates in danger: West Cape May Commissioner John Francis III filed for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 2nd district with 221 signatures, just 21 over what he needs.  It’s possible that the two candidates with organization lines, Brigid Callahan Harrison and Amy Kennedy, want the other two get lost in a sea of four off-the-line candidates and not challenge Francis.

Congressional candidates need 200 signatures to secure a ballot position.

In the 3rd district, newcomer David R. Schmidt filed with just 223 signatures.  The New Jersey Globe doesn’t know much about Schmidt, who was unable to say why he was running or what his background is when reached by telephone the day of his filing.

Democrat David Applefield filed with 228 signatures in the 4th district in a three-candidate race to pick a challenger for 20-term Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton).  Smith faces a challenge from Lakewood Rabbi Alter Eliezer Richter, who field with 266 signatures.

Sammy Gindi, who filed with 244 signatures to run in the 6th district GOP primary, told Globe that he intends to challenge the petitions of his opponent, Christian Onuoha.  Onuoha filed with five more signatures than he did.

In the closely-watched 7th district, where Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) is seeking to unseat freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), two Republicans filed to take on Kean in the primary: Raafat Barsoom and Tom Phillips.

Barsoom, a physician who won 11% of the vote against incumbent Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) in the 2018 primary and 17% as the GOP State Senate candidate in the 29th district against Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark), filed with just 210 signatures.

The other candidate, human resources executive Tom Phillips, filed with only 209 signatures.

Both Republicans trying to take on Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) in the 8th didn’t leave themselves with a lot of padding on their petitions.  Billy Prempeh filed with 227 signatures and Tim Walsh with 230.

In the 12th district, where Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) is seeking a fourth term, Republican Mark Razzoli filed with just 200 signatures.  Invalidating one of them could knock the Old Bridge councilman off the ballot.

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