Of Shocking Developments, Political Hail Marys, and the Return of King Penna


Political junkies take note: Normal life may be hanging in surreal suspension, but if you look hard enough, you can still find some political battles.

Two of the five Republicans seeking the party’s nod to take on Sen. Cory Booker this fall were “in court” Monday over an alleged faulty nominating petition. Or rather, their dispute was before an
administrative law judge via Zoom video conferencing.

The combatants were Rik Mehta, who has racked up the most county party endorsements, and Hirsh Singh.

Front and center was King Penna, a colorful and at times controversial political consultant.

It was Penna who filed a challenge to Mehta’s petition, alleging that many of the candidate’s signatures were not from registered Republicans. Penna said some who signed were Democrats and members of
the Green Party.

The judge disagreed. The challenge was thrown out and Mehta remains on the ballot for the June 2 primary, although a pandemic-related postponement is likely.

This prompted the Singh camp to send out a highly rhetorical statement calling the court’s decision a “shocking development.”

And for good measure, it alleged Mehta garnered signatures from non-Republicans, because he is a “plant by the progressive establishment in Washington D.C.”

It is common for candidates in GOP primaries to label their opponents as “progressive, “liberal,” or just not Republican enough. That seems to be what is happening here.

The Mehta campaign responded by calling Singh’s complaint frivolous and a waste of taxpayers’ money. And in a comment fitting for the approaching Easter weekend, Mehta said the Singh campaign tried a
desperation “Hail Mary pass” and failed.

The Mehta campaign insisted it got around 1,800 signatures in all, comfortably above the 1,000 it needed.

Penna says he is not officially part of the Singh campaign Singh, nonetheless, spoke warmly about Penna, praising his challenge of Mehta’s petitions and adding that, “It is because of the vigilance
of Americans like King Penna that we live in the greatest country in the world today.”

Penna, who often operates behind the scene, seems in no hurry to move out of the spotlight.

Regarding the attempt to have Mehta’s candidacy disqualified, Penna said, “The fight’s only just beginning.”

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