New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy could be heading into the 2021 Democratic primary without any challengers after two judges ruled on Tuesday that his opponents' petitions to be on the ballot were invalid.
According to the state's Office of Administrative Law, the nearly 2,000 petition signatures submitted by Democrat Lisa McCormick were done by her campaign through a computer program, and people's names were inserted without their knowledge.
At least two of the signatures submitted came from voters who had died before the dated signatures, the judge said.
"I have been seeking some other progressive Democrat to take on this challenge for a long time, but I filed petitions because I could not find anyone willing to take on the task. Unfortunately, my name will not be on the ballot but that won’t distract me from speaking out," McCormick said on her website Tuesday.
McCormick urged supporters on Twitter to write her name on the ballot. She can appeal the judge's decision but it's unclear if she'll do so.
In a separate case, another judge ruled Tuesday that 305 signatures out of nearly 1,300 submitted by Democratic challenger Roger Bacon are also invalid. That made Bacon fall short of the 1,000 signatures needed for his name to be put on the ballot in June.
The signatures that were found to be invalid either came from a person who wasn't registered to vote, were affiliated with the Republican Party, had invalid addresses not matching the voter's registration or had other errors, Judge JoAnn Candido wrote in her ruling.
It's unclear if Bacon will appeal but he said he plans to run as an Independent in November's ballot, according to NorthJersey.com.
If neither Bacon or McCormick get their names on the ballot, Murphy would be the first incumbent governor since 1997 to go unchallenged by their own party, the outlet first reported.