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Schundler Files Lawsuit Challenging Election “Rules Change”

Jersey City Mayor Says Bill Allowing DiFrancesco Replacement Is Unconstitutional


Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler filed a lawsuit Thursday in Mercer County Superior Court challenging as unconstitutional the law passed by the Legislature Monday, which has allowed Bob Franks to enter the gubernatorial primary long after the filing deadline has passed.

“The Legislature has acted to change the rules of an election that is already underway,” Schundler said. “This is another attempt by a small number of Republican Party bosses to manipulate the election process so that they can replace one failed machine candidate on the ballot with another candidate of their choosing. They are attempting a tag-team approach where one candidate fails, so another is allowed to make a last minute entry into the race and is given large amounts of public financing in order to give them an advantage over the already declared candidates.”

The lawsuit states that because the legislation in question was crafted todeal with issues surround legislative redistricting, there was no need forany changes to the gubernatorial process.

“The gubernatorial campaign is a statewide race and redistricting did notchange the boundaries of the state of New Jersey,” Schundler said. “This would set a precedent where anytime a party in power is losing an election, they could pass a bill delaying the election date and allowing a replacement candidate to enter the race.”

The filing deadline for gubernatorial candidates passed on April 12, and the authority of the so-called committee on vacancies had expired last Wednesday, April 18 – prior to this bill being approved and signed into law by Don DiFrancesco. Therefore, as of last Thursday the field was set with DiFrancesco and Schundler being the only two candidates in the Republican primary. Five days later a bill was passed specifically allowing a new candidate to enter the race.

The lawsuit states that, “This provision of the Bill is in direct contravention to N.J.S.A. 19:23-12, which had required that a certificate of nomination to fill a vacancy be filed no later than forty-eight days prior to the primary election, provisions set for June 5, 2001, i.e. by April 18, 2001 deadline.”

Also requested as part of the legal action is a temporary restraint preventing county clerks and the Secretary of State from accepting or certifying any additional candidates in the primary election prior to resolution of this lawsuit.



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