Buono Joins GOP War On Voting

STATE — While state Sen. Barbara Buono may lack stiff opposition for her party’s nomination for governor, she apparently wants to blunt democratic process by mounting legal challenges to all her primary competitors.

Lawyers for Buono, a political weakling who polls show garnering as little as 20 percent of the vote against Republican incumbent Chris Christie, have demanded that state officials remove the names of four other candidates from the June ballot.

Buono is largely unknown to voters and trails Christie by 35 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week.

Instead of using her resources to compare herself with a small pack of lesser candidates, a forum in which any qualified contender could shine, Buono hopes to force them out of the running.

To get their names on the ballot, candidates had to collect at least 1,000 signatures.

Carl A. Bergmanson, a Democrat who ran against former Gov. Jon Corzine and filed 1,281 signatures, was informed that lawyers for Buono want the state Division of Elections to deny him a place on the ballot.

Buono, a state senator from Middlesex County, is being represented by attorneys for the Democratic State Committee, which is chaired by another Middlesex County lawmaker, John Wisniewski.

Bergmanson said he considers Republican Christie and Democrat Buono part of the “one percent” who do not represent working middle-class New Jerseyans or their interests.

Millionaire Buono is apparently threatened by the former mayor of Glen Ridge, who won 9 percent of the vote the 2009 primary for governor and has virtually nothing in his campaign fund.

Another dark horse candidate, William Araujo, 42, of Edison, suggested hypocrisy and racism is behind Buono’s challenge of petitions signed by hundreds of Hispanic voters.
“The Democratic Party claimed Republicans are against Latinos,” Araujo said. “My campaign worked very hard to get over 1,300 signatures, and only 30 were invalidated by the Division of Elections. Now the Buono campaign wants to take away my rights with hundreds of other Latinos to be represented.”
Araujo’s candidacy is also a threat to Buono, as is that of Troy Webster, the aide to East Orange Mayor Robert Bowser who is running in an effort to afford the four-term incumbent the top spot on the June primary ballot in his reelection bid.

Matt Jordan, a spokesman for state Senate candidate Mark Alexander, the former Obama advisor running in the 34th District against Essex County Sen. Nia Gill, explained that Webster’s candidacy was necessary in order to secure the best ballot position on June 4.

Buono is apparently also fearful of Jeff Boss, the Jersey City conspiracy theorist who wants to legalize marijuana and claims the National Security Agency was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

In 2012, Boss — a perennial candidate — received 907 votes for President of the United States.

With almost $1 million in contributions and matching taxpayer funds awarded to her campaign, Buono would rather mute her token opponents than simply show why she is a better choice.

Buono’s attack on voting may have a price, as one maverick Democrat threatens to rally support behind an alternative candidate if any survive the legal maneuver.

“In New Jersey, we permit the politicians to rig the ballot by awarding preferential positioning to political insiders,” said Democratic strategist James J. Devine, who has previously knocked Buono for keeping her campaign funds in the ‘too-big-to-fail’ Bank of America. “Denying citizens the right to vote is a Republican trademark but removing alternative selections is just as bad because it takes away our choices.”

“Voters deserve choices and all candidates deserve an equal opportunity for fair ballot position,” said Devine. “Instead of telling us why we should give her the nomination, Sen. Buono wants to take away our right to choose and that is unacceptable.”

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