The acting New Jersey Secretary of State has rejected a bid by Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) to run as a Democratic candidate for Congress while at the same time running as the candidate of the newly-formed Moderate Party, a move that is widely expected to prompt a court challenge to a state law banning fusion voting.
“No candidate shall sign an acceptance of nomination on a General Election petition for nomination for an office if the candidate has signed an acceptance of nomination on a petition for the Primary Election nomination for the same office,” Tahesha Way, the state’s top election official, said in a letter to Malinowski.
Way said state election law prohibits Malinowski, the likely Democratic nominee – he won Tuesday’s primary against perennial candidate Roger Bacon — to file an independent petition.
The Moderate Party was formed by two Republicans, East Amwell Township Committeeman Richard Wolfe and former Alexandria Mayor Michelle Garay, as well as some Democrats and unaffiliated voters. They picked Malinowski as their congressional candidate in the 7th district.
The fusion ticket could offer a home for moderate Republicans to vote for Malinowski with out pulling a Democratic lever.
Petitions with Malinowski’s name, done with his consent, were filed on Tuesday.
Earlier today, GOP State Chairman Bob Hugin mocked the plan as a “desperate, embarrassing tactic by a candidate.”
“He’s going to anything to get opportunistic,” Hugin said. “I don’t think it has legal and we will do everything we can to ensure that the legal principles are observed and upheld in the laws of New Jersey.”