New Jersey primary ballot system remains on hold by appeals court.

Philadelphia — A federal appeals court maintained a lower court judge's interim block on New Jersey's primary ballot design, which favored party establishment candidates.  

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia refused county clerks' plea to block U.S. District Judge Zahid Quraishi's recent decision preliminarily stopping primary ballot design. Quraishi's order remains in effect before the June 4 primary after the appeals court verdict.  

The upper court's Wednesday verdict is the latest in a series of events affecting state elections. Weekend clarification: Quraishi's order applies just to the Democratic primary, not the Republican. Democratic Rep. Andy Kim filed the suit to replace indicted Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. Kim and two other Democratic candidates challenged New Jersey's county line primary system in federal court.  

New Jersey is the only state to group county party-backed candidates in one column and others elsewhere on the primary ballot. Kim and many in New Jersey politics believe bracketing party-backed candidates unfairly favors them and sends other candidates to “ballot Siberia.”

Quraishi agreed and ordered most county clerks to stop utilizing that technique for the June primary. Not sure what happens next. Kim's claim stemmed from his Senate race against first lady Tammy Murphy, who has since pulled out, giving Kim an advantage.  

He said that Murphy was improperly awarded a favorable ballot position because influential county party officials in populated areas supported her. Kim is the party's leading candidate after her withdrawal, but he's vowed to battle the county line system.  

Progressives in the party have long argued that the county line unjustly favors party leaders who make their primary decisions behind closed doors. Republicans petitioned Quraishi to join Kim's case. He dismissed their request, stating they missed a deadline.  

New Jersey hasn't elected a Republican senator in over 50 years, but the GOP hopes Menendez's second corruption conviction will tarnish their opponents. He has pleaded not guilty to US charges that he accepted cash, gold bars, and a luxury vehicle to help a business colleague get a lucrative Egyptian contract. New Jersey Democrats have over a million more registered voters than Republicans.  

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