The State of the Suit

The Gold Dome.

Some Republicans are happy the “county line” has been preserved.

But not all of them.

In what is really no surprise, four Republican primary candidates are asking the courts to expand last week’s order to include GOP primaries.

It is, says lawyer Robert Kovic, who filed the action, a “matter of justice, fairness and equal applicability of our constitutional principles to all parties, so as to not create a separate class of candidates and voters who share special privileges not enjoyed by the other.”

The action was filed on behalf of Albert Harshaw, a Senate candidate, and three House candidates – Shirley Maia-Cusick (CD-3), Gregg Mele (CD-6) and Hector Castillo (CD-9). (The suit incorrectly lists Mele as a Senate candidate, but he is running for the House.)

Judge Zahid Quraishi last week put a temporary hold on the traditional ballot design in New Jersey, which includes a “county line.” Critics say that allows county political leaders to award endorsed candidates with a preferential ballot position.

Senate candidate Andy Kim, most famously now, filed suit against that type of ballot design in February. And last Friday, the judge agreed, saying the state’s customary way of doing things is unconstitutional.
But the next day, he clarified his ruling to say it applies only to this year’s Democratic primary. He did so after Morris County Republicans specifically asked if his ruling covered both party primaries.

The judge said it did not.

This sets up something quite bizarre – Democrats and Republicans holding primaries under different rules.

That is what the latest action is designed to remedy. The suit says:

“The Republican Candidates, party officials, party members and voters are entitled to equal protection under the laws and constitution and, as such, these Intervenors should be heard in order to preserve such constitutional principles by expanding the relief granted in the March 29, 2024 Order.”

Holding two different primaries under two different rules is easy to fix, according to Kovic’s filing.

All the judge has to do is expand his ruling to include Republicans.

 

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