Robert Bedoya, a Republican Assembly candidate in the 37th legislative district who was disqualified last week for insufficient signatures, is now back on the ballot after Administrative Law Judge Joann Candido reconsidered her previous decision.
Bedoya’s petitions were challenged by Dierdre Paul, the Republican Senate candidate in the district and Bedoya’s ostensible running mate. Bedoya appears to be a follower of the conspiracy theory QAnon, and Paul has said she has no desire to run alongside him.
Paul argued that 46 of Bedoya’s 126 signatures were invalid; Candido ultimately tossed 27 of them, pushing Bedoya below the 100 signatures necessary to make the ballot. Bedoya was offered the chance to withdraw from the race, but he declined, saying he’d rather receive an official ruling from Candido disqualifying his candidacy.
But in that official ruling, which was released today, Candido reversed course, saying that she erred during last week’s hearing by re-eliminating six signatures that the Division of Elections had already eliminated. Under her new calculations, Bedoya has 105 valid signatures, enough for him to remain on the June primary ballot.
“Election laws are to be liberally construed to effectuate their purpose,” Candido wrote. “Usually, it is in the public interest to submit to the electorate a ballot bearing the names of candidates of all qualifying groups and parties.”
Paul said she was dismayed at the ruling, and promised that she would continue fighting to keep Bedoya off the ballot.
“I’m going to exhaust every option,” she said. “I’m not going to let this go down without a fight. If they think that, then obviously they don’t know me.”
Regardless of how many candidates Republicans field, they have virtually no shot at winning the 37th district, which covers heavily diverse and Democratic areas of Bergen County. A second Assembly candidate, Katherine Lebovics, is also running; she, unlike Bedoya, is aligned with Paul.