trentonian on phoneBy Scott Ketterer, The Trentonian

TRENTON — The NJWEEDMAN’s chances of making it onto the November ballot are dwindling after a Thursday hearing before an administrative law judge.

Ed Forchion, also known as NJWEEDMAN, will continue to fight to keep from being thrown off the November ballot where he is seeking a congressional seat in New Jersey’s third district.

In a fax sent to The Trentonian on Wednesday, Forchion explained that the Democratic State Committee (DSC) attempted to bring a statutory challenge as to the validity of his nominating petition. Among other things the DSC took issue with were Forchion’s residency and the endorsement of 100 qualified signatures to allow him to appear on the ballot.

On Thursday, at a review before Administrative Law Judge Robert Bingham II, the DSC’s challenge as to Forchion’s residency was tossed. In the decision Judge Bingham said, “[Forchion} currently resides in New Jersey, and recently sought to update his New Jersey voter registration to indicate that he is homeless. Thus as, to the subject candidacy qualifications of [Forchion], I further find that [Forchion] resides in New Jersey and intends to reside here, and is a current New Jersey registered voter.”

The DSC argued previously that Forchion also lived in California, which he had testified to residing there intermittently.

Thursday’s decision indicated that Forchion must have the minimum of 100 qualified voters to appear on the ballot. On Wednesday 109 of the 208 signatures gathered were successfully challenged, placing Forchion at 99 signatures. Additionally, on Thursday the number was further reduced to 97 signatures according to a corrected version of the initial decision. A number of the signatures were tossed because of issues with regard to address discrepancies, others for criminal convictions and some based on issues with the names of the registered voter. Based upon the information in the decision, Forchion falls short the required number of signatures.

However, the decision only addressed a portion of Forchion’s contention that the DCS’s challenge was not timely filed when it had only been faxed

Forchion contends that the hearing should have never gone before a judge in the first place and that the DSC’s challenge was not timely filed and dated, and further was only faxed and not filed, meaning that faxing is not analogous to filing. The court disagreed and said that the filing was timely, yet did not address Forchion’s point regarding filing vs. faxing.

On Wednesday, Forchion specified in his brief to Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno that the challenge brought by the Democratic Committee was not received by the Lt. Governor’s office until after 4 p.m. on Monday, and further states that the document was not hand delivered and “file date and time stamped” before 5 p.m. The document said that it [The Democratic State Committee’s challenge] would indicate June 10, 2014, if any date at all,” missing the challenge deadline.

Another candidate whose name will appear on the General Election Ballot in the Third District filed a brief in support of Forchion. Frederick LaVergne which adds support to Forchions contention that the challenge was merely faxed, and not filed before 5 p.m. on June 9. Judge Bingham said that if the objection was filed no later than 5 p.m. on June 9 it was not untimely.

Forchion told The Trentonian that the judge missed the central point of his argument and that the matter should not have gone in front of a judge in the first place.

On Thursday, the Judge ordered that Forchion’s petition be declared invalid and filed his decision to be considered by Lt. Gov Kim Guadagno. Ultimately the decision falls on the Lt. Gov’s shoulders.

Forchion told The Trentonian that he believes the challenge to remove him from the ballot was made because of his strong stance about the quality of the Burlington County Jail over which adversary candidate Aimee Belgard, a county freeholder, has oversight. Forchion has been a vocal advocate following the deaths of Jerome Iozzia and Robert Taylor both of whom died while in the Burlington County Jail.

On Wednesday however, Democratic State Committee spokesman Matt Farrauto told the Associated Press that Forchion is not seen as a threat and that simply, “If you don’t meet the statutory requirements, you’re subject to a challenge.”

As of 7 p.m. on Thursday it was unclear if Lt. Gov. Guadagno had seen Judge Bingham’s decision, though according to the decision the Lt. Governor and Secretary of State, who has the final say on the matter. If she does not adopt, modify or reject the decision within 45 days, the recommended decision by Judge Bingham becomes final.







Judge recommends NJWeedman get booted from ballot

A New Jersey administrative law judge has recommended that perennial third-party political candidate Edward “NJWeedman” Forchion should be disqualified from running for Congress in November.

Judge Robert Bingham ruled Thursday that the Pemberton Township man's petition to run for the 3rd Congressional District seat was three short of the required 100 signatures after the Democratic State Committee successfully argued for invalidating 111 of the 208 signatures Forchion submitted.

The judge issued his opinion in writing following a marathon hearing on the individual signatures that began Tuesday morning and did not end until after 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Most of the signatures were stricken either because there wasn’t evidence that the person was a registered voter or because the people didn't live in the 3rd District.

In his opinion, Bingham rejected an argument from the Democrats that Forchion also should be disqualified from running because he is registered to vote in California and New Jersey, as well as an argument from Forchion that the Democrats’ complaint should be tossed because it was filed with the Division of Elections three minutes after a 4 p.m. deadline for challenges.

Bingham said the actual statute says that a challenge must be filed no later than four days after the last day for filing petitions, but does not specify a set time.

The opinion is merely a recommendation. It will be up to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who is also New Jersey’s secretary of state, to decide if Forchion should be disqualified from running.

A spokesman for the New Jersey Division of Elections said Guadagno has received the judge’s recommendation and is reviewing it. A decision is expected in “a timely manner,” the spokesman said.

Forchion, who filed to run as an independent candidate under the slogan Legalize Marijuana Party, said he still questions why some of the signatures were disqualified, and that he also believes the Democrats’ challenge was filed too late. He said he is appealing to Guadagno to reject the judge’s recommendation.

“We should never have been before the judge,” he said. “If I showed up late, I'd hear all kinds of stoner jokes about me."

  1. is a well-known marijuana activist who previously has run for several elected offices, including governor, Burlington County freeholder and Congress. He maintained Thursday that the Democrats want him off the ballot because they are afraid he would draw votes away from their party’s nominee, Aimee Belgard, in her race against Republican Tom MacArthur.

A spokesman for the Democratic State Committee has said the challenge was filed because Forchion’s petition did not meet the statutory requirements.

In addition to Forchion, Frederick John LaVergne, of Delanco, has filed to run as an independent for the seat held by retiring Rep. Jon Runyan.

LaVergne sent a letter to Guadagno on Thursday prior to the release of the judge’s opinion arguing in favor of Forchion’s name appearing on the ballot.


David Levinsky -- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. David Levinsky: 609-871-8154; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; Twitter: @davidlevinsky

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; Twitter: @davidlevins