Flat Tire Doesn’t Deter LD29 Challenger Qazi, and other Late Division of Elections Tales

TRENTON – Awais Qazi came running into the room huffing and puffing. It was 3:55 p.m. – five minutes before the deadline for candidates seeking legislative seats in the June primary to file nominating petitions with the state.

He said he was almost late because he got a flat tire. That is the kind of tale that seems a trifle unbelievable, but Qazi swore it was true. Getting the flat repaired in time was fortuitous, because the 4 p.m. deadline is precisely that.

Every year it seems there are people who miss it because of the perennial curse of New Jersey traffic. Too bad.

As Donna Barber, the Elections Manager for the New Jersey Department of State, put it, those seeking special dispensation because of a traffic jam won’t get any comfort from her.

“They have to talk to a judge,” she said.

By sheer coincidence, Qazi arrived a few minutes after another “twenty-something” looking young man, Steve Poveda. Both filed to run as Democrats in the 29th District, which is centered in Newark. The incumbent Assembly members are Democrats Eliana Pintor Marin and Shanique Davis-Speight.

Challenging incumbents is not easy. Pintor Marin, by the way, has gotten some degree of publicity of late for co-chairing the Select Committee looking into sexual allegations brought by Katie Brennan. Poveda said he wants to bring the party more to the left.

Qazi agreed. And he offered the experience of protesting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office for stronger legislation to protect the environment.

That’s not all. Qazi also said he disagrees with Pintor Marin’s support a few years back for raising the state’s gasoline tax, which impacts less affluent people. He also wants to increase taxes on millionaires and is not sure Pintor Marin agrees.

The two insurgents didn’t seem to know each other, but they met afterwards to “talk strategy” or maybe just to get acquainted.

Incumbents always have the advantage, but primaries can be funny things – especially when the turnout figures to be low. To grasp that, one need only look at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s rise across the Hudson.
There were a steady stream of people filing petitions Monday afternoon, most of whom were beginning – hopefully – long-shot campaigns. Keep in mind that the petitions are checked to make sure they contain 100 valid signatures. That is signatures from people who exist, who live in the district, and who are registered to vote in the relevant party. That’s not always a sure thing.

Incumbents and more serious challengers – those with campaign cash – generally don’t wait until the final hours to file.

But another one who did was Democrat Julian Jordan from the 6th District in southern New Jersey. The incumbents here are Louis Greenwald and Pamela Lampitt.

Jordan says he knows it’s an uphill climb, but that “competition brings out the best in people.”

Another late filer was Jason Huf in District 8. He was running as a Republican in a district that has seen some turmoil of late. Sen. Dawn Addiego, who had been elected as a Republican, recently became a Democrat.

After Huf finished filing his paper work, he proclaimed it was the best “April Fools joke I ever pulled.”

He was kidding. Or was he?

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