The Weedman is officially off the ballot, ending his independent bid for governor of New Jersey.
Edward “NJ Weedman” Forchion appeared in court for about 90 minutes on Tuesday after the New Jersey Democratic State Committee challenged the validity of his nominating petitions before pulling the plug on his own candidacy.
“Forchion announced on the record that he was withdrawing his petition and candidacy for Governor and left the hearing by exiting Zoom on his computer,” Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Rabin wrote in his decision. “I accepted his withdrawal and ended the hearing.”
Rabin said he sent a withdrawal form to Forchion, but he never responded.
“As the examination of petition signatures had not yet begun and no count had yet taken place, there were no factual findings to be made and no legal analyses to be conducted, Rabin said.
Secretary of State Tahesha Way today removed Forchion from the ballot.
“I can’t compete with the power of the Democratic Party,” Forchion told Rabin. “I’m about to smoke some weed.”
He said he planned to seek write-in votes.
The ruling spares Gov. Phil Murphy the distraction of an opponent critical of his record on the legalization of marijuana. Forchion claimed that Murphy’s plan hadn’t gone far enough to address the needs of communities of color.
In another challenge, Administrative Law Judge Tricia Caliguire upheld the validity of petitions filed by Dominique Faison as the Green Party candidate for State Assembly in the 11th district.
After a hearing on Tuesday, Caliguire found that Faison had 103 valid signatures – three more than legally required.
That leaves three independents on the ballot against Murphy and Republican Jack Ciattarelli – Libertarian Party Gregg Mele, Joanne Kuniansky of the Socialist Workers Party and perennial Green Party nominee Madelyn Hoffman — the least number since 1953.
Hoffman is making her 7th bid for public office.
Some gubernatorial ballots have included a massive number of independents. The record was 17 in 1993, followed by 14 in 1977 and 11 in 1981.
This would have been Forchion’s 14th bid for public office and his second run for governor. He finished sixth in a field of ten candidates in 2005, winning 9, 136 votes (0.4%) in his race against Jon Corzine.
He filed with 836 signatures – just slightly more than the 800 required – as the candidate of the Legalize Marihuana Party and with the slogan “#HOMEGROW $ALL.”
According to Raj Parikh, the counsel to the Democratic State Committee, Forchion “failed to obtain the signatures of 800 qualified voters” required under state election law.
The challenge involves 134 signatures.
Parikh claims that some of Forchion’s signatories are either not registered to vote, not residents of the addresses listed on his petition, have incomplete information, or whose signatures didn’t match what is on file in the Statewide Voter Registration System database.
Way’s final decision acknowledges an error in Rabin’s decision.
Rabin had said that the Democratic State Committee claimed some of Forchion’s signatories were deceased, but the challenge filed by Parikh never said that.
“It is clear that there was no such allegation in the written challenge,” Way said. “Nor was such an allegation raised at the hearing.”
The Office of Administrative Law was unable to locate Rabin’s ruling, which was transmitted directly to the Secretary of State.