No New Jersey legislative incumbent chosen to run on the county line in all of the counties he or she represented has lost a primary election since 2009, according to a recent study by a Rutgers University professor, Julia Sass Rubin.
Rubin—who is neutral in the race—told The Daily Beast it’s possible that candidates can overcome the county line, citing a 2020 example when a county-backed political science professor lost in the primary to Amy Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-NJ).
No incumbent on the county line has lost a primary election since 2009, according to the researcher, Julia Sass Rubin, a professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.
On Reporters Roundtable, David Cruz talks Julia Sass Rubin, an associate professor with Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning Public Policy, about the power of the party line, how it could affect NJ’s U.S. Senate race and efforts to abolish it.
Video: Prof. Julia Sass Rubin explains how NJ primary ballots with “county lines” lead to unfair advantages
“It’s not just that you have a good ballot position, which you do on the county line,” said Julia Sass Rubin, the Rutgers report’s chief author. “It’s also that everyone else has a pretty bad ballot position… And there’s no other states that do things this way.”
Julia Sass Rubin found the line county line blessing, on average, bestowed a 38 percentage point advantage to candidates. “In every one of those 45 races, the county line was completely deterministic,’’ she said.
“It’s a rigged game,” said Julia Sass Rubin, an associate dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University who has researched the influence of the county line in federal and legislative races.
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“She would be a strong candidate because of factors that would be at work in other states as well, name recognition and such, but also because of our very unique and very broken system of endorsements, which essentially guarantee the win to those candidates that are selected by the county party chairs,” said Sass Rubin, the Rutgers professor.