Several Hudson electeds applaud no county lines this year, HCDO chair disagrees


Several Hudson County electeds are applauding a federal judge’s decision to abolish county lines this year, though the chair of the local Democratic party disagrees wholeheartedly.

U.S. District Court Judge Zahid Quraishi. Photo for Fordham Law News.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

U.S. District Court Judge Zahid Quraishi ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3), the frontrunner in the U.S. Senate race, and other Democratic candidates, striking down organizational lines for this year’s elections in a blockbuster decision today.

New Jersey was the only state in the country to utilize this unique ballot style, which research shows gives candidates on the line a significant advantage.

“Thanks to the hard work of grassroots advocates who pushed this issue forward over the last several years and devoted themselves to the hard, often thankless work of improving our democracy, New Jersey has taken a major step forward today to a fairer, more representative electoral system and away from the political bossism and corruption that has plagued our state for too long,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.

“This is a victory for the people, and proof that nothing can stop determined residents fighting for what’s right. I’m looking forward to continuing our campaign for Governor knowing that the decision on who our party nominates will be made by the Democratic voters of New Jersey, not by party bosses in a back room choosing candidates for us.”

Fulop has pushed hard against the county lines since the fall and began entertaining the possibility of running without them in next year’s gubernatorial race, where he was the first candidate to enter the fray.

One of his opponents in the June 3rd, 2025 primary, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, had also come out against organizational lines.

Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea (D-2), a declared candidate for Jersey City mayor, also celebrated Quraishi’s decision to grant emergency injunctive relief in Kim’s case.

“As someone who has run against the machine successfully on two occasions, I applaud the decision This is a good thing because it will make all candidates have to work to earn the support of the voters,” he said.

Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon, who along with Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla filed an amicus brief in Kim’s case, essentially called today’s ruling a game change for New Jersey politics.

“It’s hard to overstate how monumental the end of the county line is for NJ politics. For as long as I’ve lived in New Jersey, let alone served as an elected official in this state, I’ve seen good-government activists rail against the barricades to democracy that the corrupt county line presented. I was proud to join this fight when it was political suicide – starting when I first ran for City Council,” he stated.

“I was proud to support Andy Kim for Senate early because I believed that his campaign could represent the tide turning towards the people, away from the party bosses. And now, that belief has come to fruition. Thank you to all who fought for this moment. While an appeal will likely come, the judge’s ruling should stand – and the corrupt New Jersey machine has been dealt a fatal blow. With the end of the county line, voters across the state can finally elect candidates that reflect their core values — and that is a victory for everyone, regardless of party affiliation.”

Bhalla, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez in the 8th District congressional race, was succinct in celebrating today’s outcome in federal court.

“Due to the tireless advocacy of so many, the county line is finally gone. It’s why I submitted an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit. Now, New Jersey will get what 49 other states have: free and fair elections. A great day for democracy,” he asserted.

Menendez, who had been awarded the line in Hudson, Essex, and Union Counties, did not celebrate or denounced the decision, instead thanking his supporters and indicating that he will not let external factors he can’t control impact the race.

“ … We are running an aggressive and well-resourced campaign, centered on our track record of accomplishments, regardless of any external factors. I look forward to again earning the support of Eighth District voters and continuing to take on the big fights in Washington and here at home by protecting reproductive rights, tackling affordability issues, and addressing critical quality of life issues.”

Two Hoboken councilwomen also weighed in: 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, Bhalla’s most definitive adversary on the council, and Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour, a close political ally of the mayor.

They both lent their names to a list of dozens of current and former female elected officials, as well as candidates, who called for an end to the line about two weeks ago.

“The average voter doesn’t truly understand the implications of this transformative ruling. This paves the way for democracy and having a truly representative government that is both for the people and by the people in New Jersey,” Fisher stated.

“Today’s decision is a significant change in the universe of NJ politics, giving power back to the people. This change will help level the playing field – esp for women & minority candidates who’ve had to work twice as hard to fight against preferential treatment on the ballot,” Jabbour wrote on X.

Jersey City Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera lauded the result, expressing his belief that this is a big win for Latino populations.

“I think the line definitely opens up opportunities for the Latino community and other minority groups to believe that they are participating as voters and candidates in a system which is no longer grants anyone an almost certain victory based on voting line,” he told HCV.

“Many minorities share a sense that elections are won before Ballots are cast. Ending the line can go a long way towards in changing public perception in regards to electoral politics in New Jersey.”

On the other side of the coin, Hudson County Democratic Organization Chair Anthony Vainieri said he was against Quraishi’s ruling, proclaiming that time constraints will make voter education extremely difficult now.

“I strongly disagree with the judges ruling today. If he was acting to abolish the party lines, he should have done it for next year, not this year. We need more time to educate our voters and for the county clerks to redesign the ballots. I feel it is too close to the June 4th primary to make a change of such significance for our voters and our county clerks,” he said over the phone.

“There will be fallout for some of the offices up this year, since this will discourage some people from voting, like some of our seniors. We just changed our voting machines and had to educate our voters on how they work and now this only gives us two months to educate our voters on how the ballot will look, depending on how long it takes the county clerks to design the ballot.”

Again, none of this would have happened without Kim, who became the frontrunner for Senate when First Lady Tammy Murphy unexpectedly, dropped out on Sunday, spearheading a legal fight.

While he had agreed to run on the majority of the county organizational lines that Murphy had, including the HCDO’s, that point is now moot.

And while the decision will be appealed by multiple county clerk’s offices, it would be a big surprise if any appellate court issued a stay prior to the primary.

“Today’s decision is a victory for a fairer, more democratic politics in New Jersey. It’s a victory built from the incredible grassroots work of activists across our state who saw an undemocratic system marginalizing the voices of voters, and worked tirelessly to fix it,”  Kim said in a statement.

“While fixing this unfair ballot system is a massive step forward towards perfecting our democracy, there is still work to be done. Both in New Jersey and nationwide, we need to regain the trust of the voters we serve. I will continue to work tirelessly to restore and protect voting rights, address the scourge of big money in our politics, and make our government more accessible and accountable to everyday New Jerseyans.”


Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from Jersey City Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera. 

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  1. Is Vainieri joking? Some older voters won’t vote because there’s no line? Vainieri is signaling that no Democrat on the ballot in November should expect the organization to lift a finger for them. Remember, Senator Menendez plans to run independent this year. Hmmmmm.

    • Will opening the Democratic line to Progressives also encourage moderates and conservatives to participate in Hudson County politics? Right now we have a one party system that is obviously broken — is it possible we have 3 political mindsets (progressives, dems and right of dems) prepared to become more engaged in the process now that the shackles are somewhat off? It will be fun to watch….. and the changes may be broader than you think.

  2. Hopefully, the beginning of the end of the old white guys’ stranglehold on Hudson County. Love how nepo baby straddles the fence. Maybe we’ll actually start electing real progressives.