New Jersey Politicker, considered the leading source of political news in New Jersey, has this story on Chris Daggett in its August 18 issue. Daggett is an independent candidate in this year’s gubernatorial election who has qualified for public funding and who will be in the state government-sponsored TV debates.
The article compares Daggett with Angus King, who was elected Governor of Maine as an independent in 1994 (and re-elected as an independent in 1998). The story also interviews King.
The story fails to mention a big difference between Maine and New Jersey. Maine puts candidates on the general election ballot in alphabetical order, and uses an orderly office-group ballot format. When King was elected in 1994, there were four gubernatorial candidates on the ballot, listed neatly under the heading “For Governor.” Although King was last of the four listed candidates, it was easy to see his name.
By contrast, almost all New Jersey counties use a party-column ballot, in which the Democratic column is headed “Democratic” in big letters; ditto for the Republicans; and all other candidates are listed in a column headed “By petition” on the right-hand side of the ballot. Thus, there is no easy way for a voter to visually scan all the candidates for any particular office. Instead, the eye of an ordinary voter is only drawn to the part of the ballot reserved for Republican and Democratic columns. This is partly why no candidate for Governor of New Jersey, other than a Democrat or a Republican, has polled as much as 5% since 1913. New Jersey is the only state that gives party column headings to the qualified parties but no one else, but the New Jersey press seems completely oblivious of this.
The story mentions the Maine election of 1994 and says there were five gubernatorial candidates, but it does not mention that one of the five candidates was a write-in candidate. This year New Jersey has 12 candidates for Governor on the ballot.