From David Dayen, The American Prospect <[email protected]>
Subject Dayen on TAP: Andy Kim vs. the Machine
Date February 27, 2024 8:04 PM
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**FEBRUARY 27, 2024**

On the Prospect website

Scenes From the Bat Cave

How Steward Health left a Space Coast community hospital in a literal
world of shit BY MAUREEN TKACIK

Civil War II
As Southern states again assert their dubious right to countermand
federal law and the national Constitution, Biden needs to be as resolute

Housing First Can Work-If Done Right

Solving homelessness requires strong and well-resourced case management,
and an acknowledgment of where programs fall short. BY NEIL GONG &

Tomorrow's News Today

Tom Tomorrow brings you This Modern World BY TOM TOMORROW

Dayen on TAP








**** Andy Kim vs. the Machine

Kim files suit against the 'unjust and undemocratic' New Jersey
county line, while winning Democratic convention votes to cut into Tammy
Murphy's advantage.

The moment Tammy Murphy, the ex-Republican first lady of New Jersey, got
into the state's U.S. Senate primary to replace the fantastically
corrupt Bob Menendez, experts who know a thing or two about Garden State
politics pronounced the race all but over. Even though Rep. Andy Kim,
who had been running for months by that point, has held double-digit
leads against Murphy in all public

and private

polling for the June 4 Democratic primary, Murphy immediately secured
the endorsements of several powerful county chairs-many with financial
incentives to do favors for Tammy's husband, Gov. Phil Murphy-who
could grant her something called "the county line."

Ballot placement in most New Jersey counties is unique among all 50
states; the endorsed candidate gets prime placement while challengers
are sent to "ballot Siberia." This can give endorsed candidates an
advantage of as much as 38 points on average, according to one study

I wrote about last November.

Given this dynamic, it's no surprise that Kim sued the county clerks

in federal court yesterday, arguing that the county line is
"fundamentally unjust and undemocratic," and must be prohibited for the
primary on constitutional grounds. There is actually an existing
challenge to the county line that has survived a motion to dismiss eight
times and is currently in discovery; the same lawyers pursuing that case
are lead counsel on Kim's lawsuit. Kim clearly hopes that the
high-profile nature of the Senate primary will force the judiciary to
act swiftly.

"Government ... cannot constitutionally design a primary ballot to favor
only those candidates who happen to be endorsed by a faction of a
party's leadership," the lawsuit asserts. It asks for an injunction
that will put in place a normal-looking ballot for the June primary,
where all candidates for a particular race are grouped together.

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But there's been a more surprising turn of events in parallel with the
legal fight. In the counties where the county line is determined by a
convention rather than the whim of the chair, Kim has been
contesting-and winning. It started in Monmouth, a Southern Shore
county that Kim partially represents in Congress but which has been the
home county of Murphy for 25 years. Kim won the convention

in a relative blowout, 56-38. Kim then trounced Murphy in Burlington
County, his home county, by over 90 percent

of the vote.

In smaller Hunterdon County, Kim prevailed after a seeming dirty trick
when county chair Arlene Quiñones Perez announced that any candidate
receiving 30 percent of the convention vote would win the county line.
She cleverly framed it as a response to Kim and other Senate candidates
asking clerks

to eliminate the county line altogether. But of course, eliminating the
advantage in one county while keeping it for Murphy in others would
represent unilateral disarmament for Kim. So delegates successfully
appealed Quiñones Perez's change, and voted Kim in as the endorsed
candidate, 62-33 over Murphy.

Murphy still has the inside track in counties where the decision of the
chair is all that is needed to secure the county line. But everywhere
there's been a contested convention, Kim has won. According to one
analysis ,
Kim has the edge to become the endorsed candidate in seven counties and
Murphy in ten counties, with two toss-ups. (The other two of New
Jersey's 21 counties don't use a county line.) If Kim were to flip a
lean-Murphy expectation and win populous Bergen County's Democratic
convention on March 4, he would be likely to gain the endorsement in
counties with 40 percent of New Jersey's expected primary vote. Murphy
would have 51 percent, with 7 percent undecided and 2 percent no line.

In other words, despite the machine politics at play, there's an
outside chance for Kim to win the county line in enough places to blunt
and almost totally nullify Murphy's advantage. Working on two tracks,
Kim is challenging a corrupt system while organizing to counteract that
corruption in the handful of places where he can.

Meanwhile, Murphy's statement about Kim's lawsuit-whining that he
is perfectly happy to participate in the county line process when he
wins-shows a recognition that her grand plan to use insider
connections to grab a Senate seat is faltering when it comes into
contact with actual voters.


**Follow David Dayen on Twitter**
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