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HomeDoverRuiz Files as Independent, Legal Battle Over Sore Loser Law Looms

Ruiz Files as Independent, Legal Battle Over Sore Loser Law Looms

Dover Democratic Committee did not choose her

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DOVER — A current Democratic Dover councilwoman, Karol Y. Ruiz, who filed for re-election as an independent after losing party support, could face challenges if judges enforce New Jersey’s Sore Loser Law.

Ruiz sought the Democratic organization line earlier this year, but the Dover Democratic Committee chose her opponent,  Veronica Velez.

Karol Y. Ruiz

In an undated letter to Veronica Velez, Ruiz stated, “As you know, following the conclusion of what I believed to be an extremely flawed process, I decided to withdraw my candidacy in the Democratic primary and continue my campaign for re-election as an Independent candidate.” (Click here to read the document.)

Ruiz also wrote a letter similar to that of Independent Candidate John Londono. (Click here to read the document.)

The Morris County Board of Elections confirmed Valez and Londono as candidates.

On March 3, Ruiz filed a document with the New Jersey Election Enforcement Commission stating she was running as an Independent for a Council seat in Dover, Ward 3. (Click here to read the document.) Ruiz also filed an amended form on March 9, 2024.

New Jersey Globe states, “Under similar circumstances, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. faces a lawsuit alleging that his prior candidacy for the Democratic nomination prohibits a general election candidacy.  A Superior Court judge has scheduled a hearing on Kennedy’s candidacy on July 17.”

“As a believer in the rule of law, it is evident to me that Ruiz planned to run in the Democratic primary and dropped out only when she decided she was unlikely to win,” Dover Mayor James Dodd told the New Jersey Globe.  “Based on the spirit of the Sore Loser Law, Ms. Ruiz should abide by the law and stay out of the general election.  I cannot comment further on what legal actions may be taken should she refuse to do what is right by her constituents.”

In 2022, a Monmouth County Superior Court Judge, Linda Grasso Jones, ruled that New Jersey’s Sore Loser Law applies to write-in candidates. The case involved Joseph Abutel, who ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign for the Colts Neck Township Committee in the Republican primary. After losing, he filed to run as an independent in the general election. The court found that the Sore Loser Law prevented him from appearing on the ballot as an independent, establishing that even write-in primary candidates are subject to this law​.

On September 13, 2023, the superior court concluded Penns Grove Mayor LaDaena Thomas “did unsuccessfully seek to win a primary election for the mayoral position and, therefore, cannot be named on the printed ballot as an independent candidate under N.J.S.A. 19:13-8.1.,” The decision stopped the County Clerk from placing her name on the printed ballot but clarified that she could still compete for the position as a write-in candidate.

The Sore Loser Law states, “…candidates who sought, but failed, to secure the nomination of a political party from running as independents or as nominees for another party in the general election. These restrictions are sometimes called sore loser laws. Some states have explicit sore loser laws, while others have similar requirements.

Dover Focus attempted to comment from Ruiz, but requests went unanswered as of the publication of this article.

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Frank Cahill
Frank Cahillhttps://www.frankcahill.com
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since January 1, 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town, and Chairman of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board. Owner of the Morris now app serving small business in Morris County.
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