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13 Assembly candidates vulnerable to petition challenges

By Nikita Biryukov, April 01 2019 10:13 pm

Last year, Dana Wefer’s U.S. Senate bid was quashed a week after filing day.

Brian Fitzherbert’s bid for now-former Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s House seat met a similar end.

Both candidates were tossed off the ballot after challenges to their nominating petitions removed enough signatures to push them below the number needed to run — 1,000 in Wefer’s case and 200 in Fitzherbert’s.

With 40 Assembly seats up for election this year, the number of candidates vulnerable to petition challenges is much larger.

Though the exact number will vary for each candidate’s petition, office-seekers would do well to keep a cushion of at least 20% of the required number of signatures to avoid being tossed off the ballot.

For Assembly races, that means candidates will want more than 120 signatures to guarantee they’re actually on the ballot come June 4, though a yet larger number of signatures is needed to truly ensure safety.

Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce had 118 signatures when the Department of Elections opened its doors Monday morning. Her petitions were twice supplemented, and she finished the day with 150 signatures, well out of range of a challenge.

Every incumbent in the state filed their petitions with a healthy buffer.

Many of the political newcomers seeking a spot in the state legislature weren’t so prepared.

Thirteen prospective elected officials — mostly Democrats — may be removed from the ballot if party operatives, primary opponents or folks from across the aisle see fit to issue a petition challenge.

See their names below:

Third Legislative District

John Kalnas (D) 116 signatures.

Fifth Legislative District

Theodore Johnson (D) 112 signatures.

Sixth Legislative District

John Papeika & Cynthia Plucinski (R) 116 signatures.

Dani Moss-Velasco & Julian Jordan (D) 121 signatures.

Eighth Legislative District

Johnny Bravo (D) 116 signatures.

Jason Huf (R) 117 signatures.

12th Legislative District

Kenneth Jones (D) 120 signatures.

29th Legislative District

Awais Qazi (D) 118 signatures.

Steve Poveda (D) 102 signatures.

39th Legislative District

Angela Hendricks & Gino Tessaro (R) 114 signatures.

Two other candidates, Roger Locandro (R) in the 16th district and Edward Tolga Gonca (D) of the 36th district, face a lesser risk of being eliminated. Locandro filed with his petitions with 126 signatures. Tolga Gonca filed with 127.

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