New Jersey lawyer seeks to keep RFK Jr. off November ballot

Democrats nationwide fear Kennedy will siphon votes from Biden

By: - June 25, 2024 6:21 pm

New Jersey's "sore loser law" disqualifies Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from appearing on November's ballot because he tried to win the Democratic nomination in June, the lawsuit says. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)

An election lawyer alleges in a new lawsuit that New Jersey’s “sore loser law” prevents independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from appearing on the November ballot in the Garden State.

The law prohibits candidates from mounting independent campaigns the same year they’ve failed to win the nomination of a political party. Salmon says Kennedy did just that by seeking the White House as an independent after trying and failing to defeat President Joe Biden as a Democrat.

“If you want to run as an independent, that’s fine, run as an independent — don’t try and get the party’s nomination first, lose, and then decide, ‘You know what, screw these people, I want to go around the system,’” attorney Scott Salmon said in an interview.

The New Jersey Globe first reported Salmon’s complaint, which was filed in state Superior Court in Mercer County Tuesday.

Salmon was instrumental in keeping rapper Ye from appearing on the 2020 presidential ballot in New Jersey. Ye’s campaign withdrew from the race after Salmon challenged his petition signatures, saying some lacked required information and others looked identical.

Democrats in key states like North Carolina and Nevada, fearing Kennedy will siphon votes from Biden and hand the election to Republican Donald Trump, have made similar pushes to boot Kennedy from the ballot.

Kennedy announced his presidential campaign in April 2023 as a Democrat competing against Biden. Kennedy raised $385,000 from hundreds of New Jersey donors while seeking the party’s nomination, according to Salmon.

In October, Kennedy announced he would end his campaign as a Democrat and launched an independent bid for the White House.

Kennedy’s name didn’t appear on the ballot for New Jersey’s June 4 Democratic primary, but he still received hundreds, if not thousands, of write-in votes, according to Salmon.

Secretary of State Tahesha Way has until Aug. 9 to formally certify all candidates for the general election. Salmon is hoping the judge decides his case before then.

“It should be clear to people what you’re running for, what you want to associate for, and it’s fine if you don’t want to associate with a party. What’s not good for anybody is to confuse the voters, who are expecting to see someone’s name on the ballot for the nomination and then they’ve withdrawn from that party,” he said.

In his complaint, Salmon says federal and state courts have upheld New Jersey’s sore loser law. He has noted that candidates do not have to appear on a primary ballot to be disqualified from the November ballot — unsuccessfully seeking the nomination is also disqualifying under the law.


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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting. You can reach her at [email protected].

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