MT. HOLLY, N.J. – If this year’s NJ-03 congressional fight wasn’t crazy enough already? Add a pandemic to the mix and all bets are off.
News broke over the past few days that the Murphy Administration is considering EXCLUSIVELY vote by mail ballot-casting for upcoming April and May local elections. No active polling places; just you, your mail-in ballot, and a pen in the comfort of your quarantined home. There’s speculation that the statewide June 2nd primary could be all-VBM, too, if the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t yet abated.
NJ-03 GOP candidate Kate Gibbs, a former Burlington County freeholder, issued a statement saying that;s exactly what needs to happen.
“Today, I urge Governor Murphy and legislative leaders to pass legislation allowing this year’s June primary election to be conducted completely via mail-in ballots to best protect public health in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic that is increasingly spreading in New Jersey,” said Gibbs on Monday. “Forget about party labels, we need to come together as a state and as a country and start dealing with this crisis as adults. I recognize the election is nearly 80 days away, but in order to have a fair and secure election, this decision can’t wait. Our Secretary of State, Superintendents of Election, County Clerks, and Boards of Election need to know the rules now to properly plan for June.”
Her opponent – ex-construction CEO David Richter – said Gibbs was trying to “game the election” when reached for comment by Save Jersey.
“At this point in time our campaign is focused on helping our friends and neighbors through the crisis. We’ve asked our volunteers to cease door-to-door canvassing and we are limiting face-to-face interactions for the time being in accordance with CDC recommendations,” said Richter. “Our government leaders on both sides of the aisle are working hard around the clock. Again, our focus is on helping people through this, unlike the Gibbs’ campaign which is trying to game this election.”
It’s not immediately clear which candidate (if either) would benefit from an all-VBM contest.
Richter is endorsed by Ocean County’s Republican organization while Gibbs has the line in her home county of Burlington. Most observers believe it’s a jump ball though Richter’s money, Ocean-experienced staff, and the perennially potent Ocean turnout machine could give him an edge in a traditional low-turnout primary battle.
A VBM-only contest would be anything but traditional and potentially level the playing field for Gibbs whose campaign mechanics savvy team – including campaign manager Angelo Lamberto – is well-acquainted with the ins and outs of New Jersey’s recently-expanded vote-by-mail program.