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Challenge to petition causes Independent to drop bid for NJ-5

Lou Vellucci has withdrawn from the race for Congress in New Jersey’s 5th District after a challenge to his nomination petitions left him below the 100 needed to stay on the ballot.

The Bergen County Republican Organization challenged Vellucci’s petition, which was filed with 113 signatures under the slogan “American Values.” There was some belief that his slogan could draw votes from the Republican candidate, Mary Jo Guinchard.

Administrative Law Judge Joann Candido had disqualified 15 signatures before Vellucci opted to abandon his congressional campaign rather than be barred from the ballot.

This was Vellucci’s third challenge to Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff). He received 5,128 votes (1.2%) in 2020 and finished last in a field of five candidates in 2022 with 618 votes (0.23%).

“I love elections,” he told Candido.

The Bergen GOP was represented by election lawyer Giancarlo Ghione. Vellucci represented himself. The complaint was filed late yesterday and heard by a judge this morning.

Vellucci’s withdrawal leaves four independent candidates: James Toscone (Libertarian Party), Beau Forte (Green Party), Aamir Arif (Peace, Freedom, Liberty) and Richard Siegel (Ceasefire & Justice).

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