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Republican State Senate candidate Chris Auriemma. (Photo: Chris Auriemma.)

GOP Senate candidate legal challenge on petitions

Judge will decide fate of Auriemma’s bid to take on Sarlo next week

By David Wildstein, April 10 2021 12:20 am

A Republican State Senate candidate whose name didn’t show up on an original list of candidates after Monday’s filing deadline is facing a court challenge to his nominating petitions.

Chris Auriemma, who wants to run in the 36th district against Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), is set to appear before a judge on Monday after Bergen County Democrats alleged that his petitions were invalid.

This is the latest in a series of petition mishaps for Auriemma, a second-time candidate and Iraq combat veteran who circulated old-fashioned in-person petitions but then filed them electronically.

His path to being certified by the Division of Elections remains unclear.

Auriemma initially filed general election petitions but received some tutoring from election officials as they sought to help him correct deficiencies that might have otherwise kept him off the ballot.

He offered to come to Trenton on filing day, but records don’t show that he did.

“I apologize.  I can come down tomorrow if you need me to deliver all three packets,” Auriemma wrote, referring to his two Assembly running mates, Ana Castillo and his brother, Craig Auriemma.

Records show that Auriemma was still curing petition defects on Wednesday evening.

In an email exchange with a state Division of Elections employee on Sunday, Auriemma had trouble transmitting his petition.

“So sorry my scanner app keeps uploading the wrong one — this is the correct one,” he wrote in an email obtained by the New Jersey Globe through a request under the Open Public Records Act.

Another attempt failed as well.

“I honestly apologize — my scanner app kept messing up,” Auriemma wrote.

Among Auriemma’s greatest challenges: signature pages for Auriemma and his brother appear to be identical photocopies and we not on a joint petition.

“The circulator of these signature sheets, who signed the affidavit for both of these nominating petitions, was Chris Auriemma, thereby implicating all three individuals in a potential fraud,” said Conor Gorman, the executive director of the Bergen County Democratic organization.

In a challenge to Auriemma’s place on the ballot, Gorman said that the petitions don’t comply with state election law “or with “procedures governing election integrity.”

But the defect that could prove fatal for Auriemma is the allegation that he doesn’t have 100 valid signatures – a dealbreaker for the judge who will hear the challenge on Monday.

The New Jersey Globe made several unsuccessful attempts to reach Auriemma by telephone this week, but he did leave a voice mail response.

“I went out, I got the signatures, I filed the paperwork on Sunday night, and I got on the ballot,” Auriemma said.  “There was some mix-up I guess, I don’t know what the deal is – that’s how I got on the ballot.”

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