Democrat for NJ governor accused of planting fake names on petitions
A Hunterdon County woman who has been building a record of unsuccessfully challenging Democratic politicians has been accused of generating fake signatures on an online candidate petition.
Lisa McCormick, who has billed herself as a progressive Democrat, attempted to file her candidacy to run against Gov. Phil Murphy in the upcoming June primary with support from her campaign manager and partner, Jim Devine.
Of the 1,951 would-be signatures submitted, roughly 85% of them have last names that start with either “A” or “B,” according to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, which challenged her petitions.
With electronic submissions in place of traditional election filings due to the pandemic, there have been challenges verifying information.
A hearing by the Office of Administrative Law on Monday included testimony from at least five people whose names were on McCormick’s electronic petition who said they never signed it, as recounted on Twitter by New Jersey Globe editor David Wildstein.
Among names on the digital petition submitted by McCormick’s campaign:
- A person by name of “First Name Middle Name Last Name,” who lives at “Address, City, State Zipcode.”
- Someone who spelled and signed their name as “Jose8.”
- And a Seton Hall law professor who died in 2015, according to NJDSC attorney Raj Parikh.
The Democratic State Committee has called for the petition filed by McCormick to be rejected, as requested in a letter to Division of Elections Director Robert Giles from Parikh on Friday.
The committee also said that the McCormick petitions were created at the same time and in the same Microsoft Word document, as shown by document metadata analyzed by NJDSC officials.
Judge Jeffrey Rabin said he would make a decision by Tuesday on whether McCormick would remain on the ballot, as Rabin also said he believed McCormick and Devine "intentionally skipped" the hearing.
When asked about the issues being considered by Rabin, the governor said he had no comment on the specifics of the McCormick petitions but that he believes it "smart" to continue electronically filing petitions during the public health crisis.
"I assume folks overwhelmingly take that responsibility seriously and lawfully," Murphy said at the state's pandemic briefing on Monday. He added it was unclear whether the procedure would remain modified by the general election in the fall.
McCormick had a strong showing against U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez in the Democratic primary in 2018.
Last year, she ran and lost against U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. 12th District, in the July all-mail-in ballot primary.
Amid that campaign, Watson Coleman's team accused McCormick and Levine of creating “several fake websites, email accounts and virtual personas in an attempt to smear” the incumbent Congresswoman, as reported by the Daily Princetonian.
Previously, McCormick was a resident of Rahway and unsuccessfully ran in different years for Union County surrogate, Rahway City Council and Union County clerk.