A candidate for the GOP State Assembly nomination in the 3rd Legislative District was not registered to vote in New Jersey while competing for the seat at a county convention.
Robert Villare, a cardiothoracic surgeon who lives in West Deptford, just signed his voter registration card at the Gloucester County Board of Elections yesterday – four days after seeking the Cumberland County Republican Party's endorsement for an assembly seat at their convention.
Villare responded that he used to be registered in New Jersey, but registered in Delaware when he temporarily moved there to work at two different hospitals. Records show Villare registered as an Independent in Wilmington as recently as October, 2008.
"I was previously registered in New Jersey, spent a couple years in Delaware working, but I kept my home in New Jersey," he said. "What's the difference? I've been registered in New Jersey, grew up here and lived my life here. I understand that this is politics, but that's not the main issue here… so let's set the record straight."
Villare then said he did not want to talk about the matter anymore, leaving open the question of the last time he voted.
"If you have questions on real issues facing New Jersey I'll be glad to speak about them," he told PolitickerNJ.com.
When asked why he was running for assembly, Villare said that the state's problems hit home when his 94-year-old mother faced a $1,000 tax increase on her Paulsboro home.
"All New Jerseyans are fed up. We're being taxed to death, there are suffocating regulations, people can't afford health care, businesses are being driven out."
Gloucester County Superintendent of Elections Stephanie Salvatore could not find any record of Villare ever being registered to vote anywhere in the state of New Jersey. Salvatore said that it is possible a registration in a county other than Gloucester that is more than four years old might not show up in the state system.
Villare lost the Cumberland County convention to former Cumberland County Surrogate Arthur Marchand and Greenwich Township Mayor George Shivery, who are running as a team.
Cumberland County Republican Chairman Bob Greco said that he heard rumors about Villare's registration status after the convention, but was upset to hear them confirmed. The party's rules state that candidates must be registered Republicans in the legislative district where they are seeking office.
"Those rules are set for each of the candidates prior to the convention and were read publicly at the convention and a copy was given to every one of the candidates at the convention," said Greco, who said that if Villare had won the party line he would have to rescind it."‘I would hope on his part that it is an oversight, but the reality is that the burden falls on the candidate to comply with the requirements…. It's an embarrassing circumstance for him, to say the least, and of course brings into question one's position to run for office by making such a personal mistake."
Shivery said that he also heard rumors that Villare was not registered to vote in New Jersey, but "it was so far out there I didn't believe there's any truth to it."
"I don't even have the words. If it wasn't so ludicrous, it would make a sitcom on television," he said.
The New Jersey State Constitution requires members of the State Assembly to be a resident of the state for two years.