'Clean Elections' Deadline Extended

Record-Breeze — Thursday, September 8, 2005

By: Tony Regina, Managing Editor

The clean elections campaign became a tad bit tidier last week.

On Wednesday, Aug. 31, acting New Jersey Governor Richard Codey signed an order that pushed the Clean Elections deadline from Sept.7 to Sept. 21. The two-week extension was received with open arms from sixth district candidates.

"We're absolutely ecstatic about it," said JoAnn Gurenlian, one of the Republican candidates. "It gives us extra time and makes a huge difference."

For Gurenlian and partner Marc Fleischner, the extension comes as a relief. Although they were optimistic before the deadline, the Republicans believe they're in a better position to qualify for clean elections with a new deadline intact.

"We're given the opportunity to qualify," Gurenlian said. "If we can pour it on in the next two weeks, then we'll be in great shape."

Before the extension, sixth district candidates had to qualify for clean elections by Sept. 7. However, the pilot project officially came into place in late June, which proved problematic for the Republican party.

"A lot of people went away in the summer. We're hoping that the mere fact everyone has to be back home is going to help us," Gurenlian said.

"I think the decision to extend the deadline was made because they (the state) recognized that the bar was set a little high," Jeff Kasko, Gurenlian's campaign manager, added.

The Democrats, however, experienced just the opposite.

According to Democratic candidate and current sixth district senator Lou Greenwald, the summer months may have been challenging, but they certainly didn't prevent their message from being spread.

"We set-up meetings with media outlets. We went to the people that know us best. We went to people who interacted with us constantly," he said. "We went to people we could reach out with to spread clean elections, and it worked for us."
"Our communication to every single person we met was key. That's the sort of suggestive selling that we did," Pam Rosen-Lampitt, Greenwald's running partner, added.

Although Greenwald and partner Rosen-Lampitt have already qualified for clean elections, they still intend to continue reaching out to the public for more contributions.

The deadline extension not only allows more contributions, but it also lets the word pass along even farther.

"As of right now, we have about 3,700 contributions. It continues to go well for us," Greenwald said. "It (the extension) won't do anything to benefit our campaign except continue to spread our message."

Though content with his own party's progress, Greenwald remains critical of other teams involved in clean elections, particularly Gurenlian and Fleischner. The Republicans still have yet to file their contribution information online, a decision that Greenwald feels is detrimental to the pilot project.

"I wish they would file so it would help clean elections," Greenwald said. "I am critical of everyone in this process. None of the other teams are really following the purpose because they're not filing."

Greenwald argues that both he and Rosen Lampitt constantly filed their information, which helped them in qualifying for clean elections.

"If you were going to go online, you would know exactly where we are," Greenwald said. "We always made sure to file our information. None of them (teams) have filed, and it's depriving people access to the process."

By not filing, Greenwald claims, the other teams from both the sixth and 13th districts are also making it difficult for his party to assist in the process, which is the next step they wish to take.

"The next step is to help our opponents qualify, but we really don't know how to help them," he said.

Although, according to Greenwald, the sixth district Republican party hasn't filed their information online, they are still aided by another Internet tool.

Last week, the Department of Treasury established a website solely dedicated for individuals to contribute online.

Although this additional outlet was designed to boost clean elections, it's importance has become difficult to measure, according to Gurenlian.

"We're struggling with how to track the electronic contributions. We don't get a reporting to us, so we have no way of tracking the number of people who are submitting information," Gurenlian siad. "We've been trying to work it out. It's sort of a glitch in the system."

Despite this shortcoming, the Republican party remains optimistic about their chances of qualify, particularly because of the deadline extension.

"I think we can step up right now," Kasko said. "We're halfway there on our contributions. We're working on a plan to get us there, and we're confident we're going to reach that mark."

Gurenlian believes the extension has provided a new hope for her party. "With this extension, we're given the opportunity to qualify," she said. "I think it will make a the difference in the world."

With an extra two weeks to qualify for clean elections, the Republican party will continue to host "coffees" in order to reach the 3,000 mark. Meanwhile, as the Democrats search for a way to assist their opponents, Greenwald wants to see clean elections triumph in the sixth district this year.

"Quite frankly, the purpose of this was to educate the public on clean elections. Truly, we want to see them succeed," he said. "We want this entire process to be a success, and if they're (the Republicans) at a 1,500 now, we believe that they should make it."

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