When Richard Franolich walked into the Trenton War Memorial yesterday to file his petitions for the Republican nomination in New Jersey’s 5th congressional district, it was the first time anyone in the New Jersey political world had heard his name.
Franolich is one of a small cohort of candidates that waited until they filed their petitions to launch their campaigns; others this year included Ane Roseborough-Eberhard in the 8th district, Alex Halter in the 11th district, and Damon Galdo in the 1st district. But Franolich is unique in that he has left essentially no paper trail of his candidacy in any way.
Outside of a Facebook account where he frequently shares conspiracy-laden posts about Covid vaccines and the 2020 election, the 55-year-old Oakland resident has no apparent online presence. He does not seem to have a campaign website, and at least as of now, he has not filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
On that Facebook account, Franolich has made no mention of his run for Congress, save for one post yesterday in which he said that he ran into minor issues when filing his petitions.
“Had a hiccup today with the Congressional Nomination Packet in Trenton,” Franolich said. “It’s going before the Secretary of States Legal Office for Review. Should get a reply this week, but in the meantime, I’m pushing forward.”
What exactly that “hiccup” was is unclear; the state division of elections lists him as a candidate, having submitted 218 signatures on the “Truth in Government” line.
Franonlich’s Facebook page is otherwise a panoply of conservative viewpoints and memes – some of which compare Democrats and Covid restrictions to Nazism – as well as a few posts defending the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
“Remember, there is still over 100 political prisoners being held in the D.C. Prison,” Franolich said in a post last week about detained January 6 rioters. “This despite the FBI press statement 6 months ago that no one who entered the Capitol Building had a weapon, and their investigation determined there was no insurrection.”
Other than his one campaign post, Franolich is largely a mystery. He made the honor roll at Ramapo High School in 1980, and was later mentioned by the Ridgewood News as being a combat engineer in the U.S. Army in 1996.
(A Google search for “Richard Franolich” also turns up a number of articles about a missing-person case from the 1980s in which a Richard Franolich was a suspect, but the two are not the same person.)
Franolich is hardly alone in seeking the 5th district nomination to take on Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff). When Republican voters go to the polls in two months, they’ll have a number of other choices: Nick De Gregorio, a Marine veteran and the favorite for the nomination; Frank Pallotta, who was the party’s nominee for the seat in 2020; and Fred Schneiderman, a businessman who may be self-funding an ad-heavy campaign.
A fourth candidate, Sab Skenderi, has little hope of winning but does have a campaign website and a prior history of running for office.