TRENTON — After a judge rejected her campaign petition, a would-be challenger to Gov. Phil Murphy is asking voters to write in her name on the ballot for the Democratic primary in June.

Lisa McCormack failed to show up for her hearing this week or to give an explanation as to how the nearly 2,000 names submitted by her campaign appeared to be phony.

Several people whose names were on the digital document testified they never signed it, while at least two were people who died, according to the attorney for the state Democratic Committee. He said the petition appeared to have been filled out using a computer “mail merge” program.

McCormack and her campaign manager/partner, Jim Devine, have instead begun to ask voters to follow a “plan B” on Tuesday, June 8.

“Without expert testimony, without providing me a chance to look at the allegations, and without my ability to participate in the hearing due to other issues in my life, a decision was made to deny voters a choice on the ballot in the Democratic primary, which in New Jersey is the only consequential election due to an overwhelming partisan advantage in registration,” McCormack said in an email to supporters on Tuesday, after the judge’s decision.

“I have been seeking some other progressive Democrat to take on this challenge for a long time but I filed petitions because I could not find anyone willing to take on the task," McCormack said.

Roger Bacon, who also had filed as a Democrat, was another grassroots candidate who came up short on the required 1,000 signatures to be added to the ballot.

The dismissal of both Democratic challengers clears the way for incumbent Phil Murphy to be unopposed in his party's primary.

As for Republican candidates for governor, Hudson County pastor Phil Rizzo failed to qualify for matching funds, as first reported by Politico, while former Somerset County Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli has qualified for nearly $2.9 million in public funds to date.

The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission announced on Monday it approved nearly $750,000 in public matching funds for Ciattarelli’s primary campaign.

Candidates who raise $490,000 or more can qualify for public matching funds under the public financing program.

In March, the commission approved $441,000 for Citatarelli’s campaign while $4.1 million was approved for Murphy’s re-election bid.

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