New Jersey election officials have rejected a bid by a Republican congressional candidate to use “Let’s Go Brand*n – FJB” as his ballot slogan in the June primary.
Robert Shapiro, an attorney who has run for multiple offices without success, filed nominating petitions on Monday that used two variations of an obvious code intended to mean “Fuck Joe Biden” for his GOP primary challenge to Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Manchester) in the 4th district.
Robert Giles, the director of the New Jersey Division of Elections, told Shapiro in a letter late Wednesday evening that state laws require a candidate using the name of any person on the ballot to provide written consent from that individual at the time petitions were submitted.
“Your proposed primary ballot slogan refers to the name of a person and you did not include the statutorily required written consent,” Giles wrote. “Therefore, your slogan cannot be approved at this time.”
Giles gave Shapiro until 4 PM on Thursday to either submit written permission – apparently from Biden – or an alternate slogan. If he doesn’t, Shapiro will be certified with “No Slogan” for the primary ballot.
In the 8th district, election officials told Democratic congressional candidate Eugene Mazo that he could not use two of the three slogans he requested on his nominating petition.
In the Union County portion of his district, Manzo sought to use the slogan “Supported by the Governor.” 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.”
“The New York Times has not endorsed any candidate in the NJ-8 race,” Charlie Stadtlander, a spokesperson for the New York Times, told the New Jersey Globe. “Any publication to the contrary is not accurate.”
Giles told Mazo that he could not use the slogans without the consent of Murphy and the New York Times, respectively.
Mazo is a Rutgers University law professor and election law expert and court be testing the statute. His slogan in the parts of Essex County in the district, “Professor. Lawyer. Author. Immigrant. Proud Newarker,” was approved by election officials.
The state also gave Mazo until 4 PM on Thursday to replace his slogan, or be certified as “No Slogan” in Hudson and Union counties.
In the Republican primary for Congress in the 11th district in 2018, Jay Webber challenged rival Peter DeNeufville’s bid to use the slogan “New Jersey Reagan Republican, citing the same law Giles uses. But Secretary of State Tahesha Way ruled that that since Reagan was dead, DeNeufville is free to use the 40th president’s name in his campaign slogan.
“Here, the plain meaning of the word ‘person’ is “a living human being,” Way wrote, referencing Webster’s II New College Dictionary. “Assuming the name Reagan refers to former President Ronald Reagan, the use of the Reagan name by candidate de Neufville is permitted because former President Reagan is deceased and therefore is not a “person” within the meaning of the statute.”