A judge’s decision is sending shockwaves through N.J., where politics is ruled by backroom deals

April 1, 2024

It’s called the “county line” — and it’s been the stuff of backroom Jersey politics that allowed party bosses to play an outsized role for decades in determining the winners and losers on election day.

Now, a federal judge may have changed all of that with a 49-page ruling Friday that sent shockwaves through the state and could forever curb the power of those bosses.

It marked a dramatic victory for grassroots activists who railed for years against the unique but controversial system, in which parties across New Jersey give preferential placement on primary election ballots to endorsed candidates. Even more stunning was it came about after Gov. Phil Murphy tried to use that power to help snag a seat for his wife Tammy Murphy in the U.S. Senate, sparking a lawsuit by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3rd Dist.

Julia Sass Rubin, an associate dean at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Policy at Rutgers, found that being on the county line gave congressional candidates an advantage of 38 percentage points.

Nj.com, April 01, 2024

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