NJ governor’s race: Rizzo appealing ELEC decision not to match funds; Murphy challenger petition sent to AG

New Jersey Elections

Democratic primary challenger Lisa McCormick and Republican primary challenger Phil Rizzo (Photos: Lisa McCormick Campaign Website/Jersey Rizzo)

TRENTON, N.J. — Candidates on both sides of the aisle are protesting decisions made regarding New Jersey’s 2021 gubernatorial election.

On the Democratic side, New Jersey’s top elections official has asked the state’s attorney general to conduct a criminal investigation into a ballot petition submitted by a candidate aiming to challenge Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in this year’s primary.

Secretary of State Tahesha Way wrote in a final opinion on Lisa McCormick’s ballot petition that, given the allegations of “fraud and violations of criminal law,” she was ordering the matter be referred to Attorney General Gurbir to be investigated.

Way also on Wednesday formally adopted the opinion of administrative law judge Jeffrey Rabin, who ruled Tuesday that McCormick’s petition of nearly 2,000 signatories was invalid.

On the opposite side, Pastor Phil Rizzo is planning a legal appeal to the New Jersey Department of Elections, which ruled that his campaign did not raise enough money to get matching funds.

Politico reported that only Ciatterelli and perennial candidate Hirsh Singh have qualified for debates.

Rizzo’s campaign, through a spokesperson, disputed the state’s ruling.

“The Rizzo Campaign maintains they fully qualified for matching funds by the April 5 deadline and the campaign was in constant contact with ELEC staff during the unprecedented events of April 5 and throughout the submission process. The vast amount of widespread support, evidenced by over $250K in donations in the final eight hours, majority of which were small dollar donations, created a last-minute challenge in the system for all involved.”

The campaign says it can prove that well over $490,000 worth of donations were in the campaign’s account prior to the deadline, but they experienced technical difficulties and that their legal counsel is filing an appeal.

“Hundreds of people made their voices heard to get us to this point and we believe the facts merit a re-evaluation by ELEC,” Rizzo said in a statement. “We aren’t about to let down the people of New Jersey who are ready to get their lives back and want change from the status quo. We’re fighters and we’ve been a grassroots campaign from the beginning.”

He adds that they’re optimistic the ELEC will reconsider on appeal.

The New Jersey gubernatorial primary is scheduled for June 8.

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