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Rockaway Councilman Tucker Kelly. (Photo: Tucker Kelly.)

Rockaway councilman’s suit claims opponents improperly awarded Republican line

Morris GOP still dealing with growing pains over preferential ballot position

By Nikita Biryukov, May 18 2021 3:04 pm

Morris County Republicans’ growing pains over the county line aren’t finished quite yet.

A new suit filed by Rockaway Township Ward 6 Councilman Tucker Kelley charges the organization awarded other local candidates a spot on the party line in violation of its own bylaws.

The suit says Morris County Republican Chairwoman Laura Ali on April 7 submitted a letter to County Clerk Ann Grossi authorizing local candidates running under the MCRC’s slogan be placed on the county line.

Kelley charges the chairwoman overstepped her authority by sending that letter.

Kathy Quinn, Rockaway Republicans’ corresponding secretary, sent letters to Grossi the same day asking Rachael Brookes, who is running for Kelly’s council seat, and Adam Salberg, who is running for the incumbent’s post on the Rockaway Township Republican Committee, be placed on the line.

The MCRC’s bylaws provide processes for awarding the line — a preferential ballot position that can put down-ballot candidates in a column with those running for governor or Congress, for example — to county, state and federal candidates.

They don’t lay out a procedure for awarding municipal candidates the line.

Per the suit, Ali said she did not award the line to local candidates in a separate letter sent to MCRC members on April 29.

Reached by the New Jersey Globe, the chairwoman declined to comment on the filing, saying she had yet to review it.

Kelley’s suit charges Republican Councilman Jack Quinn on April 15 sent an email saying he was told he had to change his slogan so he could appear on the line. Ward 3 Councilman Doug Brookes was also placed on the line. Kelley’s filing said Doug Brookes did not ask for the preferential ballots position.

Kelley asked the court stop the printing of additional mail-in and machine ballots and order new ballots printed with him and Rachael Brookes on the same line. The deadline to prepare ballots for printing was April 19. Mail-in ballots started going out on April 24.

In a separate count, Kelley alleges a Feb. 6 vote on adopting a Republican line in Morris was invalid because there was not a verified quorum during the remote convention, though the suit does not ask the courts to annul the vote adopting a line.

The councilman is represented by Alan Zakin, who argued in favor of a suit filed by former Morris County Freeholders David Scapicchio and John Sette, who opposed the county’s adoption of a line.

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