Gary Stein,a Democratic candidate for General Assembly, will not be on the June ballot, after a state judge ruled he did not have enough signatures on his ballot.
The two Democratic party-endorsed candidates in the Atlantic County-centric 2nd Legislative District, local mayors Vince Mazzeo and Nick Russo, will now have an uncontested primary election.
Stein said if elected he wanted to reform the state’s balloting system, which he said reinforces the political boss system, and open Atlantic City revitalization to new ideas.
Legislative candidates have to file 100 signatures by April 1, from registered party members or independents, living within the legislative district. Stein said he filed 131 signatures by the deadline. Democrats then challenged his signatures, and after a hearing earlier this week Stein was left with 89 signatures.
Administrative Law Judge Lisa James-Beavers denied Stein’s request to extend the petition deadline on Wednesday, ruling it was not an issue of equal protection.
“What can I say?” Stein said later. “They got me off. There’ll be no debate of the issues, and the four candidates – the two Democrats and two Republicans – will now not have to debate any of the issues until October, just a few weeks before the election.”
Alicia D'Alessandro, the state party's communications director, referred questions this week to Michael Muller, who is heading the state Democrats’ legislative race efforts.
“You have a primary challenger, it makes life a lot more difficult,” Muller said. “He [Stein] clearly didn't make the 100 signature threshold, which is minuscule.” Muller characterized the party’s objections as “a very reasonable challenge.”
Stein, 56, of Mullica Township, owns an office cleaning business, and has repeatedly run for office, including quixotic bids for the Congress, governor and the General Assembly.