Republicans in the solidly Democratic 37th legislative district will only have two names appear on the June primary ballot after an Assembly candidate, Robert Bedoya, was booted off the ballot this morning thanks to a petition challenge from his own Senate running mate.
Bedoya, a Republican county committeemember from Fort Lee, filed for the Assembly in the Bergen County district with 126 signatures, 26 more than necessary. But Dierdre Paul, running for the Senate in the same district, argued that a huge number of them – perhaps as many as 87 – were invalid.
The petition challenge came before Administrative Law Judge Joann Candido, who found that at least 27 of Bedoya’s signatures were invalid for a variety of reasons, pushing him below the 100-signature threshold. Bedoya refused to voluntarily withdraw from the race, so Candido will soon issue a formal ruling that kicks him off the ballot.
It’s unusual for someone to seek to kick a member of their own ticket off the ballot; Paul and Bedoya technically shared the Bergen Republican line, alongside a second Assembly candidate, Katherine Lebovics. But Bedoya, who lost a campaign for school board last year, is a follower of the conspiracy theory QAnon, which seemingly caused Paul to take a principled stand against him.
Bedoya appeared confused about the nature of the challenge this morning; he asked whether Paul’s signatures were also being challenged before being informed that Paul was the one who was challenging him.
“Dierdre put my [signatures] under challenge?” Bedoya said. “Even though we’re on the same – we’re supposed to be working together.”
Since 37th district Republicans will only have one Assembly candidate left on the June primary ballot, it’s possible that Bedoya or someone else will mount a write-in campaign to fill the second slot. To be successful, they would have to receive 100 write-in votes – matching the number of signatures required to be listed on the ballot in the first place.