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Indian-American GOP candidate for N.J. governor loses court fight to participate in primary debates

Hirsh Singh, an aerospace engineer, is a Republican candidate for New Jersey Governor. (Photo: website Singhfornewjersey.com)

Hirsh Singh, an aerospace engineer, who has declared his candidacy for New Jersey governor, lost his lawsuit in a state appeals court, in which he demanded to be allowed to take part in the GOP primary debates to be held this month. Nevertheless, Singh will be on the ballot  as a candidate for the June 6 primaries.

Singh did not meet the April 3 deadline for filing his primary papers, which would have qualified him to take part in the debates. However, he had filed his candidacy way back on Feb. 23, and publicly declared his run for office March 1. But not filing his primary papers by April 3 disqualified him for the debates. On April 17, he sent in the primary filings requesting the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission to allow him to be part of the debates. It did not.  And Singh sued the agency.

His case was referred to the appellate division, which denied it on May 4, news reports said. According to nj.com, Singh could appeal the decision in the state Supreme Court, but the first debate is scheduled for Tuesday May 9 and the second one for May 11, and it may be too late now.

According to news reports, Singh, in his lawsuit indicated that he had raised way more ($900,000)  than the required amount of $430,000, required to qualify for the primary debates. The lower threshold qualifies a candidate to receive state funds to the amount of $2 for every $1 raised. Even though  Singh was not going to avail of state funds, by not filing on primary papers on time, he lost the opportunity to participate in the debates.

Singh’s attorney Stephen Edelstein characterized it as an “innocent mistake of a first-time candidate,” nj.com reported, but the court did not relent.

Singh was not the only one who did not qualify for the debate. Only 6 of 11 major party candidates will be in the debates, the news report said.