A Superior Court judge today upheld theDemocratic Party'sballot process, dealing a blow to the Senate campaign of U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-1).
Andrews, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, wants an open primary, requiring clerksto bracket candidatesin column one on the ballots in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
As the underdog without a single county party line in the northern part of the state, Andrews fears falling prey to random placement in those counties where he lacks support. Come Election Day on June 3, the handicap of having no organizational backing could result in his name being banished to some far corner of a county ballot, while Lautenberg is affixed on the organization’s line A.
But Judge Mary Jacobson of the court's chancery division deferred to the county clerks, eschewing a uniform statewide bracket, andleaving Andrews’s teampromising to appeal the judge’s decision in the court's appellate division.
Meanwhile, Lautenberg was fast to celebrate today’s ruling, the second time a judge has not seen the process the challenger’s way.
“Rob Andrews is now 0 for 2 in his attempt to manipulate the ballot process,” Lautenberg spokesperson Julie Roginsky said in a statement. “Hopefully, Congressman Andrews will now focus on the issues facing New Jersey and will explain to the voters why he co-authored the Iraq War Resolution, why he continues to mislead the public about introducing legislation to withdraw troops and why he voted three times against withdrawing our troops from Iraq and thereby finally putting an end to the war he helped sell.”
Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, chairman of the State Democratic Party, applauded the judge’s ruling. “I was concerned about the long-term impact of bracketing and how that could have potentially damaged the control of the counties,” Cryan said.
Michael Murphy, campaign manager for the Andrews campaign, took today's ruling in stride.
"Even if we’re unsuccessful here, it’s by no means desperate to attempt to rectify what is an unfair process," Murphy said. "What we’re seeking isfundamental fairness in terms of ballot geography."