TOMS RIVER, NJ – Republican Mike Blasi, who was running for office in New Jersey’s hotly contested Republican primary election against incumbent Congressman Chris Smith. Blasi, on Tuesday, withdrew from the election more than one month before the primary election day.
Officials in Monmouth County are also reportedly refusing to remove Blasi from the ballot next month. That decision will allow Smith to continue to run against two opponents, Mike Crispi and Blasi, but voters who vote for Blasi will have their votes nullified since Blasi withdrew from the campaign.
Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella, an Ocean County GOP insider said he is under no legal obligation to remove Blasi, adding the he feels it would be illegal to remove a candidate at this point in the race. The Ocean County GOP endorsed Chris Smith in the election.
The decision today by the Ocean County Clerk has many in the community claiming it amounts to voter disenfranchisement.
“The County Clerk has no statutory authority to remove a candidate’s name from the ballot under New Jersey Election Law after the Clerk has met the statutory deadline of April 18 to prepare the Official Primary Ballot for Printing. (NJSA 19:14-1). In addition, the County Clerk must adhere to NJSA 19:63-5 & NJSA 19:63-9 to commence mailing of the Vote by Mail Ballots for the Primary,” Colabella said. As such, all of the Vote by Mail Ballots for the Primary have been sent to voters and some ballots have been voted and returned to the Board of Elections. Further, the programming, preparation and printing for Provisional, Emergency, Official Sample Ballots and screens for the Early Voting machines as well as Election Day machines has been ongoing since April 18 in order to comply and meet with the strict statutory deadlines of New Jersey Election Law.”
Shore News Network reached out to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s office for comment, but as of print time, did not yet receive a response. Murphy has championed voter rights and access since taking office.
A spokesperson for Blasi’s campaign said they will soon be filing lawsuits against both Ocean and Monmouth Counties to remove their candidate from the ballot.
“Some time ago, I looked at my district and my eyes were opened to the damage an absentee representative can do. Chris Smith, who had in time past been a bulwark for many conservative principles, had become like a distant cousin,” Blasi said. “You know he’s out there somewhere, but you never hear from him, you never see him, and he’s never around when you need him. Over the years, I have seen our second amendment rights erode away, voting integrity become a joke, ideological smut being crammed down the throats of our children, and law and order begin to break down, all while government continued to bloat into the insatiable monster it has become.”
Shore News Network reached out to Congressman Chris Smith’s office and did not receive an immediate response. This story will be updated in the event that Smith responds.
“I have made the difficult decision to suspend my congressional campaign. I want to see progress on the issues that I know matter to the people of this district,” Blasi said. “This race has never been about me. Having three candidates in the race guarantees Chris Smith an easy victory. As upsetting as this is, I will always do what is in the best interest of the people of District 4.”
Ocean County Commissioner Director Joe Vicari and Assistant Director Virginia Haines also declined to comment.
Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, who is running for re-election as sheriff and chairman of the Ocean County GOP also did not comment when asked about voter disenfranchisement.