The so-called phantom candidates for Camden County Commissioner are off the ballot for the June primary, leaving a two-way race between the organization-backed incumbents, Edward McConnell and Carmen Rodriguez, and a rival slate backed by South Jersey Progressive Democrats.
County Clerk Joseph Ripa rejected nominating petitions filed by Ann Klein and Anthony Ferrante after a challenge mounted by former Collingswood Democratic Municipal Chair Kate Delaney. Ripa found deficiencies in the petition that could not be cured.
“At long last, we have a ballot that only includes those sincerely seeking office,” said Delany. “We have finally rid ourselves of recruited spoilers designed to confuse voters and peel votes away from progressives.
Klein and Ferrante had filed under the “Real South Jersey Progressives” slogan.
“The Camden County Democratic primary ballot has included columns of phantom candidates who make no visible effort to campaign, have no websites, no social media and hang up on reporters,” stated Rena Margulis, who ran against Ripa in the 2019 Democratic primary. “Their effect is to divide the anti-machine vote and push anti-machine candidates to the far reaches of the ballot.”
Dan Keashen, a spokesman for the county clerk, confirmed that Klein and Ferrante will not be on the ballot.
“Joe Ripa takes every petition challenge seriously and has always been at the forefront of protecting democracy by ensuring compliance and expanding voting access to the residents of Camden County,” Keashen said.