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Schundler Says Facts Will Prove His CaseCampaign attorneys were denied the chance to present evidence that law was changed specifically to deny GOP gubernatorial nomination to Jersey City Mayor

(TRENTON, MAY 7) – Schundler for Governor campaign manager Bill Pascoe today issued the following statement regarding the campaign’s decision to appeal a lower court ruling last Friday in the matter of Schundler v. Paulsen, et. al.: 

“Last Friday, in the Superior Court of Mercer County, Judge Feinberg refused to let our attorneys present our case.  Specifically, we were denied the chance to subpoena witnesses and introduce evidence into the record.  As a result, we were denied the relief we sought. 

“We believe that had we been given the chance to make our case fairly, we would have been able to show that this extraordinary law – passed by the legislature on April 23, 2001, under extraordinary circumstances (which are, themselves, the subject of another, separate legal challenge) – was actually designed for the sole purpose of denying Mayor Schundler the GOP nomination for Governor, by changing election law after key deadlines had passed to allow for the withdrawal of Acting Governor Don DiFrancesco and his replacement by Congressman Bob Franks.  It was an Incumbent Protection Act designed to use the power of the majority to silence unpopular political speech – to wit, the speech of Bret Schundler, whose political views on the need for reform in Trenton place him at odds with the political majority. 

“The majority has made clear from the beginning its desire to deny voters the opportunity to exercise their choice to vote for Bret Schundler.  When Donnie was first sworn in as Acting Governor, virtually every major Republican leader in the state – including the chairman of the state party, many of the GOP county chairmen, and even Congressman Bob Franks himself – publicly demanded that Mayor Schundler withdraw from the race, on the grounds that Donnie was the incumbent Governor, and therefore there should be no primary.  I find it more than a tad ironic – and blatantly hypocritical – that these very same people who three months ago demanded Mayor Schundler’s withdrawal are now arguing that we are the ones seeking to deny voters a choice.  In fact, we are simply arguing that the rules of an election should not be changed in the middle of the campaign. 

“Accordingly, this morning our attorneys filed an appeal, with a request to go straight to the Supreme Court of New Jersey. 

“We believe the following is true:  

“(1) The moving of the primary date by just three weeks will help incumbents as a group, and hurt challengers as a group – based on the concession by the Legislature in its finding that moving the primary date would lead to lower voter participation due to confusion over the date. 

“(2) The lower voter turnout which the Legislature says will happen will occur disproportionately in the poorer and less wealthy areas of the state – including places like Hudson County, where Mayor Schundler is most popular.

”(3) The Legislature's failure to extend the date for filing petitions for Governor was intended to insure that Bob Franks would be the only other person who could run for Governor, thereby insuring that he would not have a third challenger.

”(4) Those in control of the majority power in the Legislature had reason to believe that if they passed the legislation, Bob Franks would agree to run for Governor or had already agreed to run for Governor on condition of the passage of the legislation.

”(5) Those in control of the Legislature knew that unless it passed new legislation addressing the issue of whether a replacement candidate would be entitled to receive a record amount of public funds, that Bob Franks might not have agreed to run for Governor.

”(6) The new legislation uses public funding – which is actually intended to create a level playing field in gubernatorial primaries – to create an unequal playing field which the incumbent legislators know will give the favored candidate of the majority in power 33 percent more money to spend in a two way race between Franks and Schundler.

”(7) The incumbent Republican legislative leaders knew that if they did not pass this legislation, the candidate they opposed, the candidate of the minority, would win the GOP nomination because the candidate they supported, the candidate of the majority power, was going to drop out of the race and thus, without changing the rules in the middle of the game, they would be without a candidate in the gubernatorial primary.

”In sum, we believe a full and fair factual hearing will show that this legislation operates, and was intended to operate, as incumbent protection legislation for members of the Legislature, that it would certainly reduce the number of voters who would exercise their franchise UNDER THE GUISE OF TRYING TO HAVE A FAIRER AND FULLER ELECTION, and finally, that this legislation was intended to tilt the playing field by various unprecedented legal changes INCLUDING THE USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS INTENDED FOR PRECISELY THE OPPOSITE PURPOSE OF WHAT THEY ARE INTENDED FOR, to benefit the candidate favored by the political majority in the Legislature, and hurt the candidate of the minority.”

 


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