Secretary of State Tahesha Way has determined that Richard Franolich, a mysterious Republican candidate for the 5th congressional district, won’t appear on the primary ballot this June – because he meant to file for the 9th district instead.
The confusion began when, as part of the congressional redistricting process, Franolich’s hometown of Oakland was redrawn from the Bergen County-based 5th district into the Paterson-based 9th district. Franolich, apparently unaware of this change in district lines, circulated petitions affirming his candidacy for the 5th district despite no longer living in it.
After he submitted his petitions, Franolich realized his error and asked the Secretary of State’s office if he could amend his petitions, noting that 210 of his 218 signatories were residents of the 9th district. (Only 200 valid signatures are required for ballot access in New Jersey.)
But his request was denied by Way in an April 7 written decision. The secretary of state wrote that mislabeling his petitions was an incurable error, since those who signed his petitions technically thought they were doing so for a candidate in the 5th district, and as residents of the 9th district they were ineligible to sign for a 5th district candidacy.
“The mislabeling of the sought-after office is a fatal defect in your petition, and one that cannot be cured,” Way wrote to Franolich. “As it stands, your petition cannot be amended to remedy the defect, because the petition was circulated and signatures were obtained for your candidacy in the race for New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District Representative.”
The decision by Way won’t have much of an effect on the ultimate 5th and 9th district results – Franolich didn’t have any visible campaign apparatus, and wouldn’t have posed a threat to the Republican primary frontrunners in either district.
On his lone apparent online account, a Facebook page, Franolich has not yet mentioned his failure to make it on the congressional ballot. He has, however, found the time to attack cancel culture and claim Covid vaccines cause serious medical trauma.