A few days back New Jersey Republican Senate candidate Douglas Forrester called on Bob Torricelli to resign. Now Torricelli’s in effect done that and Forrester says it’s not fair and that no new, clean
Democrat should be allowed to take his place on the ballot. He’s complaining.
The heads of the Republican Senate committee are complaining. Everybody
with a parenthetical ‘R’ after their name is complaining.
From what I can tell, the legalities of getting a new name on the
ballot at this late stage are unsettled. But I was disappointed this morning
when I saw some people who should know better claiming that it was somehow
an outrage for the Democrats to try to field a candidate and give New Jersey
voters an actual election next month.
Election law — as we saw in Florida two years ago — is the most
vexed kind of law in a democratic society since it sets such powerful interests
against each other — the rule of law and democracy. In a democratic society,
the presumption in favor of putting significant questions before voters should
always prevail. If New Jersey law is crystal clear on this point, and it
specifically bars any means of putting another name on the ballot, then so
be it. But if there’s a legal way to do it, then it should happen.
This is the advantage Democrats do have and should have in this
case. In a democratic polity, the absence of black letter law to the contrary,
the interests of democracy — having real elections — always trump procedural
The rather shabby truth here is that Republicans understand that Forrester could only get elected in a state like New Jersey not simply if he were facing a bad candidate but essentially no candidate.