Bhalla and Solomon join Rep. Kim’s lawsuit to end county organizational lines


Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 8th District, and Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon have joined U.S. Rep. Andy Kim’s (D-3) lawsuit to end county organization lines in the midst of his bid for U.S. Senate.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Mr. Bhalla personally experienced the chilling effect of the ‘weight of the Line,’ the
‘primacy effect,’ ‘disadvantage for unbracketed candidates,’ has on candidates seeking to enter into a Democratic Primary,” Matt H. Adler, a partner at Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP, wrote in a 55-page amicus brief submitted yesterday.

“In 2015, Mr. Bhalla explored a run for the State Assembly. However, Mr. Bhalla choose not to pursue this candidacy once it became apparent that the Hudson County Democratic Organization would not place him on the Line. Mr. Bhalla understood that not being placed on the Line represented a death knell to his candidacy before it even began in earnest.”

Also joining the lawsuit are Joe Cohn, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Kim’s district, former Piscataway Council candidate Staci Berger  and ex-state Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle, HCDO Chair Anthony Vainieri’s sister.

Bhalla and Solomon joining Kim’s lawsuit is not particularly shocking, given that Solomon hosted a meet and greet for the two federal candidates last month and that the Hoboken mayor is running off the line to unseat U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez.

He also has the potential to bracket with Kim in Hudson County, though whether or not that materializes remains unclear.

“The ballot favoritism given to candidates endorsed by the county political parties is not only undemocratic; it deters good people from running doing a grave disservice to the voters who are denied real choices,” Bhalla said in a statement.

“It results in a system where too much power is in the hands of a select few and often unelected party leaders.”

Critics of Bhalla have noted that friend and political ally John Allen became an assemblyman by running on the HCDO line last year.

As for Solomon, he sponsored a city council resolution calling for the end to the party lines almost exactly three years ago and has pushed back against the machine ever since he ran for council in 2017.

“As a candidate running explicitly as a reformer against the local power structure, I would have never received the party’s endorsement to appear on the Line. I won my [first] election by 247 votes – a 5% margin – that certainly would have been dwarfed by the advantage received by the candidates who would have been on the Line,” Solomon said in his declaration to the court.

“During his campaigning for candidates in Hudson County in the 2020 and 2023 Democratic primaries, Mr. Solomon was continually told by voters that the Line caused them to believe that only those candidates on the Line were Democrats and that any candidate not appearing on the Line was running as a Republican or Independent,” Adler also wrote.

Both Solomon and Bhalla call for block voting, which is similar to the non-partisan races in Hoboken and Jersey City, as an alternative.

“Both amici explain how in both Hoboken and Jersey City municipal elections, the use of block voting provides an ample alternative to the Line protecting the candidates against the negative externalities of the Line system and providing legitimacy at a time when cynicism about our elections is at an all-time high.”

Speaking to HCV, Solomon said the party line essentially rigs ballots and he is happy to be a part of the fight against it.

“Yesterday, I was proud to file an amicus brief in support of Andy Kim’s lawsuit seeking to overturn ‘the line’ system that rigs our primary ballots. The line is archaic and undemocratic. It enables corrupt backroom deals between candidates and bosses candidates in exchange for the advantages of the line. It should not exist.”

U.S. District Court Judge Zahid Quraishi will hear the case in Trenton federal court on Monday, March 18th, one week before the filing deadline for the June 4th primary.

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  1. So now that Slime BALLBHALLA has his Slime ball John Allen in the Assembly with the 10000% credit to the HCDO LINE, RAvi wants the line system ended?

    Maybe Slime BALLBHALLA has a point

  2. All for show as usual, good that we have a strong press now. John can you follow up on a few things. Mayor is letting the city lag as he runs for office and not doing anything other towns and mayors do for their salary. We have to keep reminding the press that it’s summer and none of the recreational programs for summer in Hoboken are announced as usual, they don’t care about those people who stay in town. Oh yes they will release nightly concerts and weekending things and of course art-n-the-park run by a political hire. But none of the rest of the programs. I wonder how long it would take for the rest of the country to see how Ravi has again and again turned his back on the local poor. IMHO Time for the press to ask more questions so word gets out. He keeps hiring people who do nothing for anyone but themselves and get fat off the til.

    • Oh that was a lost cause since it’s not about him. Pretty clear his staffs been told to take the L on that one. Hoboken hasnt had a real summer recreation program since YMCA. They do a couple of things to shut people up for 3 year olds. I want to know where all our tax dollars go in summer. Would def be nice for media to compare Hoboken to all the towns around it in what they do for kids.