Vowing to challenge the constitutionality of a state law banning fusion voting, the Moderate Party will go to court to contest the rejection of nominating petitions to run Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) as their candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district, their state party chairman said on Thursday.
“While we’re disappointed that Secretary (Tahesha) Way chose to reject our nominating petitions, our fight to reform New Jersey’s electoral system is just beginning,” said former Alexandria Mayor Michelle Garay, a Republican who has become Moderate Party chair. “We are confident that our challenge to New Jersey’s unconstitutional electoral system will succeed and are preparing to take the next steps in the legal process.
Way declined to certify Malinowski’s nominating petition to run as both a Democrat and as an independent, citing a state law that prohibits her from doing so.
“Even as we pursue our legal challenge, we’re going to continue to work as hard as we can to re-elect Tom Malinowski because his views match those of the district he represents,” said Craig Shrader, who serves as the party’s secretary and treasurer. “We’re excited to re-engage voters in a political process that too many people feel has failed them in recent years. We believe our message of country over party will resonate as New Jersey and our nation confront serious challenges.”
Fusion voting was legal in New Jersey until 1921, when leaders from both parties pushed through legislation to limit independent challengers.
Republicans, who controlled the legislature at the time, were still reeling from losses suffered in 1912, when the independent Bull Moose candidacy of Theodore Roosevelt split the Republican vote and led to Woodrow Wilson, then the governor of New Jersey, to defeat President William Howard Taft. The Bull Moose party recruited multiple legislative and local candidates that year.