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Seton Hall Law Professor Eugene Mazo, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Congress in New Jersey. (Photo: Eugene Mazo).

Is Gene Mazo looking for a fight on ballot slogans?

Rutgers law professor filed federal lawsuit after 2020 primary on organization lines

By David Wildstein, April 07 2022 10:11 pm

A Rutgers University law professor seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 8th district seems to be testing the limits of a New Jersey law on ballot slogans for candidates running off the organization line.

Eugene Mazo filed nominating petitions on Monday using the slogan “Supported by the Governor” in the Union County portion of the district.  Gov. Phil Murphy has endorsed Robert J. Menendez for the Democratic nomination for Congress.

In Hudson, he designated the slogan “Endorsed by the New York Times,” even though he received no such endorsement.

Robert Giles, the director of the New Jersey Division of Elections, rejected those slogans on Wednesday evening because Mazo didn’t have the consent of Murphy or the New York Times to use their names.  He told Mazo that the New York Times was an incorporated entity in the state and that he was required to get their approval.

On Thursday, Mazo replaced “Endorsed by the New York Times” with “Endorsed by the N.Y. Times.”  He substituted “Supported by the Governor” with “Endorsed by the Washington Post,” a newspaper that is not incorporated in the state.

Mazo’s slogan in the parts of Essex County in the district, “Professor.  Lawyer.  Author. Immigrant.  Proud Newarker,” was approved by election officials.

Last summer, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Freda Wolfson dismissed a lawsuit filed by Mazo arguing that a requirement to get the consent of a party organization to use their ballot slogan was unconstitutional.   Wolfson said that Mazo couldn’t “plausibly” claim that the statute violated his First Amendment rights.

In the 4th district, Republican Robert Shapiro was permitted to swap out his original slogan, “Let’s Go Brand*n – FJB” with “Let’s Go Brand*n” after election officials explained that “FJB” referred to a particular individual – in this case, an acronym widely known to mean “Fuck Joe Biden” – and that he would need Biden’s permission.

Shapiro, a lawyer and perennial candidate, is challenging Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Manchester) in the Republican primary.

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