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Democratic congressional candidate David Applefield, a former journalist, is challenging Rep. Christopher Smith in NJ-4.

NJ-4 candidates want judge to force open Dem primary in Ocean County

Earp says he would allow open primary if all three candidates agree

By David Wildstein, April 06 2020 10:23 am

Two Democratic candidates for Congress in New Jersey’s 4th district are threatening legal action to force an open primary in Ocean County, where a close vote at a virtual convention gave the organization line to Stephanie Schmid.

David Applefield and Christine Conforti have asked Ocean County Democratic Chairman Wyatt Earp to hold an open primary like the one local Democrats picked in the 2nd district race.

“You granted an open primary in CD-2 without a vote, and in the interest of the Democrats listed below, the question remains why the same analysis did not result in the same outcome for the CD-4 vote,” Applefield and Conforti said in a letter to the chairman.

Earp told the New Jersey Globe that he would allow an open convention if all three candidates agreed to it.

Schmid is a no on that.

“I won the Ocean County line under the rules established,” Schmid said. “Winner takes all.”

Applefield said that current world situation means “this isn’t a time for political small-mindedness.”

“This is about due process and morality. It’s a time for moral outrage,” Applefield told the Globe.  “We need transparency and openness from leaders at every level.”

Applefield and Conforti claim that the convention rules were never sent to candidates, that guidelines for submitting endorsement videos were changed at the last minute, and that final delegate lists weren’t sent to them until less than 24 hours before the online vote began.

“This list included 15 additional delegates who reside outside of the district with whom our campaigns had no reasonable time to communicate,” they alleged in a their letter.

Solano suggested that the results would have been different if the rules were fair.

Schmid pushed back on the idea that Conforti didn’t know the rules.

“She was leaving copies of the rules with her campaign literature,” she said.

Conforti disputes that, saying Schmid is “misinformed” and provided the Globe with the literature they left for Ocean delegates.

“We have 10 volunteers who personally knocked on doors, too who can confirm this,” she said.

Asking Schmid’s campaign to produce a copy of the rules, since Applefield’s and our campaign never received them beforehand, is a fair ask.
We know of 4 Ocean Muncipal Chairs who also say they never received the Convention Rules, even with repeated asks. An unanswered thread from February exists.

Earp said that Schmid won by about the same margin as Conforti did in Mercer County. Schmid defeated  Conforti by five votes, 47 to 42, with one vote for Applefield.

“Now that she lost, she wants to go ahead and change the rules,” Earp argued.  “She had no compliant until after the election was final, well after the numbers came in.”

Applefield said that his campaign plans to take legal action.

“We need a larger, open public conversation about procedures and manipulating of those procedures,” he said.

He is also asking Monmouth County Democratic Chairman David Brown to put a moratorium on announcing results of their vote-by-mail convention until after the Ocean situation is clarified.

“The credibility of both Ocean County Democrats and Democrats everywhere is at stake,” Applefield and Conforti said in their letter to Earp.  “Respect for these basic democratic principles is what unites us as proud Democrats. We believe your organization has the intention and capacity to do what is right by the people.”

Bob Stern, the Democratic municipal chairman of Beach Haven, alleged that the county Democratic organization changed their rules in the 2nd district because they thought Kennedy might win.

“The Ocean County Democratic Committee puts forth rules saying says it will hold a convention vote by email. Despite County Committee leadership efforts to include ineligible voters — chairs of fictitious committees–  it becomes clear from an unofficial head count vote that the Chair’s preferred candidate will lose badly,” Stern said.  “Both the head count numbers and the objections to the “chair” voters are well documented. Among the delegates who can actually vote in District 2, the support for another candidate, Amy Kennedy, is overwhelming, above 90 percent. When all this becomes evident to the County Chair, he cancels the vote hours before it was to take place to deny her the Party column. There was no provision in the Convention Rules allowing such cancellation, nor was any vote taken by members to do so.”

The three Democrats are seeking the chance to take on 20-term Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton).

Request for CD-4 Endorsement Vote Recount.Conforti.Applefield.signed

This story was updated at 11:25 AM on April 6 and at 10:23 AM on April 7.

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