U.S. District Judge Zahid Quraishi granted emergency injunctive relief on Friday, agreeing to block New Jersey’s unique primary ballot design.  The decision is a major victory for those who claim it keeps powerful, political figures in power.  The lawsuit was brought by south Jersey Congressman Andy Kim, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat currently held by indicted incumbent, Senator Robert Menendez, who is facing a federal bribery trial in May.

When Rep. Kim filed the lawsuit, he was facing a primary challenge from New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy.  Murphy has since suspended her candidacy, as polls show her trailing Kim by a huge margin.

19 New Jersey counties currently use a party column ballot design for primary elections instead of organizing primary ballots around the office being sought and indicating which candidates are seeking each position.   Most counties in New Jersey print the ballots around a slate of party-endorsed candidates.  For example, Hudson County Democratic Organization candidates are put them in a column. instead of putting candidates for a particular office in a column.

Word of the judge’s ruling drew immediate praise from candidates currently running for office.   Congressman Kim stated,  the judge’s decisiom “is a victory for a fairer, more democratic politics in New Jersey.”

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who is challenging incumbent, freshman Congressman Rob Menendez, Jr. in the 8th District Congressional,  stated, “Due to the tireless advocacy of so many, the county line is finally gone. It’s why I submitted an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit.  Now, New Jersey will get what 49 other states have: free and fair elections. It’s a great day for democracy.”

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who is running for Governor in the 2025 election, issued a statement, saying, “Thanks to the hard work of grassroots advocates who pushed this issue forward over the last several years and devoted themselves to the hard, often thankless work of improving our democracy, New Jersey has taken a major step forward today to a fairer, more representative electoral system and away from the political bossism and corruption that has plagued our state for too long. This is a victory for the people, and proof that nothing can stop determined residents fighting for what’s right. I’m looking forward to continuing our campaign for Governor knowing that the decision on who our party nominates will be made by the Democratic voters of New Jersey, not by party bosses in a back room choosing candidates for us.”

New Jersey’s primary election will he held on June 4th.

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