Any which way but out Court rules McCann ineligible to run in 4th Freeholder District

Gerry McCann keeps striking out, but never leaves the batter’s box, swinging again and again until he can connect. His latest effort to slip back into office came to a grinding halt Monday when state Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli disqualified signatures on McCann’s nominating petitions to run as an independent Democrat for county freeholder in the 4th District.

“It’s my own fault,” McCann said last week. “I made a mistake. I can’t blame the judge or my opponent. I didn’t have enough signatures.” He needed 100 valid signatures to run for the position.

McCann has jumped over legal hurdles previously when his petitions were challenged in mid-April, then certified by Deputy County Clerk Joan Arango. Judge Gallipoli disqualified some signatures because they were Republicans or unregistered voters.

During a telephone interview on Tuesday, McCann blamed his last-minute start for the mistakes, and credited his opponents with the political foresight to challenge them.

“I don’t have any animosity against any one for what they did,” he said. “They made a good political move.”

McCann had sought to take advantage of a primary race between Incumbent Freeholder Nidia Davila-Colon, backed by Rep. Robert Menendez (D-13th Dist.), and Eliu Rivera, director of the Puerto Rican Association for Community Organization, backed by Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham.

“People think I was being clever by waiting for the last minute,” McCann said. “I wasn’t being clever. I was told that Rivera was going to drop out to support Davila-Colon, and I was caught in the middle waiting for direction.”

He said by the time he figured out what he wanted to do, he barely had time to collect petition signatures.

McCann said he hasn’t made up his mind as to whether to run as an Independent in November, and disputed Democratic claims that he is ineligible.

“He can’t run,” said attorney Donald Scarinci, a close associate of Rep Bob Menendez, chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Party. Scarinci said that filing to run in the Democratic primary automatically disqualified McCann from running in November, and any attempt to run would bring the matter back to court.

According to a state Supreme Court ruling in 1998, a candidate who runs and loses in a primary battle cannot run for the same office in the general election.

McCann, however, said he has not run for the office because he was kicked off the ballot and therefore he believes there is no legal impediment stopping him from running in November.

“I’m a Democrat,” he said. “I’m going to support the people that supported me. But I believe the public should be allowed to decide. Some of the other candidates are jubilant because I am out of the race. That is because they lack support. It’s sad. They don’t want a free election.”


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