An administrative law judge has tossed Tricia Flanagan off the ballot for the Republican primary for Congress in New Jersey’s 4th district after she fell short of the 200 signatures required by state law.
Flanagan filed with just 243 signatures and Judge Catherine Tuohy disqualified 60 signatures after finding that they were either not registered voters, not Republicans, or not residents of the 4th district. That brought her tally to 187 – 17 short of what she needed.
Because Flanagan had already fallen short, Tuohy ended the hearing without reviewing additional challenged signatures. That’s common practice in petition challenges.
“You had 243 signatures, just doing the math. With the 60 stricken, you’re left with 183 short of the 200 necessary,” Tuohy said. “I know you made their objections, but at this point it is even without going through the main door, there’s not enough to succeed. Even if you want win every other challenge.”
The hearing went on for nearly five hours as the Tuohy checked individual voter registration records with a state Division of Elections official, Joi Robinson.
Flanagan suggested that signers ruled as ineligible still had time to move into the 4th district and vote in the June 7 primary.
“The math is what it is, but based on the parameters given, you know the numbers are not there.,” she said. “However, we still maintain the objections that I have brought forth and again based
Lisa Natale-Contessa, a former Toms River school board candidate, challenged the petitions of Flanagan. She was represented by attorney Giancarlo Ghione, a supporter of another candidate, Mike Crispi.
Flanagan, a perennial candidate, represented herself in a court hearing. She was joined by Michelle Albergo, her national campaign director, and Mike Pastore, a volunteer who helped gather petitions.
“We took great diligence and great pains to make sure out petition was valid,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan began running against Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) in the 3rd district but later switched to a primary challenge against the 21-term incumbent, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Manchester).
Her campaign never seemed to catch on. She raised just $1,577 during the third quarter of 2021 and didn’t bother filing a report with the Federal Election Commission for the fourth quarter. Flanagan has not filed a personal financial disclosure with the Clerk of the House and is months past the deadline.
Tuohy will file a formal decision with Secretary of State Tahesha Way on Monday. Technically, it will be up to Way to make a final decision.
Flanagan could appeal the ruling.
Another candidate, Robert Shapiro, dropped out of the race after another judge found that he also fell below the required 200 signatures.