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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Murphy willing to discuss ballot design options other than organization lines

Attorney General’s opposition to lawsuit doesn’t constitute administration position

By David Wildstein, June 02 2021 9:46 pm

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s opposition to a lawsuit filed by progressive leaders challenging the constitutionality of organization lines ought not be interpreted as a political position, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Wednesday.

“The organization lines are based on statute and the attorney general, and his team have an obligation to defend the law and that’s the position they’re taking,” Murphy said.  “They’re doing what they’re required to do.”

Murphy, who is running on organization lines in the June primary for the second time, would not preclude supporting a change in the law down the road.

“I’m very much open to a discussion about ballot design, without question,” he said.

But the governor firmly planted himself in the middle of party leaders and progressive activists – both of whom are supporting his bid to become the first Demcoratic governor to win re-election in 44 years.

He disputed the “notion that there’s a bunch of machine politicians on one line and a bunch of enlightened candidates of independent mind on other parts of the ballot.”

“There are good people all over these ballots and that’s always the case, regardless of where they may fall,” Murphy said.

The lawsuit, filed by progressive groups and former off the line candidates – and supported by the League of Women Voters of New Jersey – seeks to invalidate the law that offers preferential ballot positions to candidates supported by county political party organizations.

The first challenge is to survive a motion that would toss the challenge, filed in U.S. District Court.  If that happens, progressives will likely be permitted the chance to depose witnesses – a potential treasure trove of information.

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