The candidate who is poised to replace Assembly Majority Whip Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Bayonne) is pushing back on a New Jersey Globe report that he has never voted in a Democratic primary and has a shoddy record in general elections.
“I don’t know if what you wrote was actually true,” said William B. Sampson IV, who is Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis’ choice to run for the 31st district Assembly seat. “If it’s true and I did miss those votes, I wasn’t as politically active as I am today.”
Sampson acknowledged that he’s missed several general elections, but disputed allegations that’s he’s never voted in a primary.
“Yes, I have,” he said in a telephone interview with the NJ Globe.
Still, Sampson’s voting record, maintained by the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) at the New Jersey Secretary of State’s office, shows he has never voted in a primary election.
Asked if the records were wrong, Samson demurred.
“I’m not going to go that far,” the first-time candidate said.
But he is disputing a record that he didn’t vote for Davis, his political godfather, in his 2014 race to unseated incumbent Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith.
“That’s not true,” Sampson said. “I did vote.”
Sampson registered to vote in 2012 and missed four general elections, records show. Among them were three of the last four races for the seat he is seeking.
In the one legislative year that he voted, he wasn’t sure who he voted for, other than Gov. Phil Murphy.
“Not only did I vote for Murphy, I campaigned for him,” Sampson proclaimed.
But his recollections were murkier in other races.
Did he vote for Chiaravalloti in 2017?
“Can’t recall,” Sampson said.
State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City)?
“I can’t recall,” he said.
Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City), who would be his running mate on the Hudson County Democratic Organization line?
Sampson said, “I can’t recall.”
One year later, when Sampson voted in the 2018 general election, he wasn’t certain if he voted for U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a Hudson County native.
“I can’t recall,” Sampson said about the high-profile Senate race between Menendez and Bob Hugin, who spent more than $36 million of his own money on the contest.
In that election, Menendez had the endorsement of the International Longshoremen’s Association. Sampson, a crane operator at the Global Container Terminal in Bayonne, was the political coordinator from Local 1588.
“I do voter registration,” Sampson told the NJ Globe. “I am very active in voter registration.”
At age 32, Sampson could wind up as the youngest member of the New Jersey legislature if he wins.
He maintains his own experience as a non-voter could help boost voter turnout among young urban residents who fail to cast their ballots more frequently than older voters.
“There’s a lot of growth on my side. I want to motivate the younger generation to follow my lead,” Sampson explained. “When history is made and they see a young man who has never voted vote, that’s progression.”
Asked why he wasn’t part of the record number of young people who registered to vote when Barack Obama ran for president, Sampson said he preferred to look forward.
“In 2008, I was 18 or 19. Look how I changed. Look where I am today. I’ve learned to navigate,” said Sampson. “I’m more politically conscious today in 2021. I’m looking for progression. People look for progression. They look for people who progress. It’s going to resonate well.”