Scott Salmon

Who Is Scott Salmon? Meet the Lawyer Challenging Kennedy’s Candidacy

For some, news of a lawsuit seeking to keep Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s independent campaign for president off the New Jersey ballot elicited one question: Who is Scott Salmon?

Salmon, an election lawyer and partner at Jardim Meisner Salmon Sprague & Susser in Florham Park, is both plaintiff and plaintiff’s counsel in the suit against Kennedy. His challenge to Kennedy’s candidacy could raise public awareness of Salmon, who has had a low profile in legal and political circles despite a run for Congress in 2018 and a challenge to the presidential candidacy of Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, in 2020.

Salmon filed a suit on Tuesday claiming Kennedy is not eligible to appear on the New Jersey ballot under what’s known as the state’s “sore loser” statute because Kennedy ran for the Democratic nomination for about 10 months, raised $350,000 from New Jersey residents and spent $1.6 million trying to get votes in New Jersey, Salmon wrote on X.

Kennedy also told the Federal Election Commission that he was running as a Democrat before he withdrew and announced he was running as an independent, Salmon wrote.

The suit seeks a judgment declaring Kennedy violated the Sore Loser Law because he previously unsuccessfully sought the nomination of the Democratic Party for the same office in the same election cycle.

The Kennedy campaign said in a statement that Salmon’s suit is “frivolous.”

“The lawsuit has no merit because Kennedy never filed as a Democratic candidate in New Jersey or any state. He announced his independent candidacy before submitting any state filings and has submitted all of them as an independent,” the campaign said.

Kennedy, who has had a career as an environmental lawyer and activist, is the son of the late U.S. Attorney General and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy.

Salmon, 34, said he didn’t coordinate the Kennedy suit with Democratic Party officials and no one is paying his legal fees.

‘The Young Turk of Election Law’

Salmon’s posts on X are “endlessly interesting because he really shares his thought processes,” said Micah Rasmussen, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University in Lawrenceville. Salmon also advises Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s gubernatorial candidacy on election laws and policy issues, said Rasmussen.

“He’s definitely the young Turk of election law. I don’t know if that’s a politically correct term, but he’s definitely part of the vanguard,” Rasmussen said. ”I find him to be carving out a really interesting space for himself in the statewide debate.”

As for how much Biden and Trump stand to lose from Kennedy being included in the race, Rasmussen said that “we won’t ever know until we get there whether he’s drawing more votes from Trump or more votes from Biden.” That’s probably why neither party tried to remove Kennedy from the ballot, Rasmussen said.

But clearly the Biden campaign would like to have the campaign be a head-to-head contest between Trump and Biden, said Rasmussen.

“They believe they present the strongest contrast when it’s him versus us,” Rasmussen said.

Salmon got schooled in the Sore Loser Law in 2023 when a judge issued an order removing LaDaena Thomas, the incumbent mayor of the small town of Penns Grove, from the ballot after a person not affiliated with her campaign used Facebook to urge voters to write in her name in the Democratic Party primary.

Thomas alluded to it on Facebook, prompting the judge to remove her from the ballot, said Salmon, who represented the borough clerk.

Salmon said he decided to get involved in the presidential election because it “grinds my gears” to see a presidential candidate who doesn’t follow the rules for elections.

“If you’re running for the president of the United States, the bare minimum that we are entitled to expect is that you’re going to follow the rules, especially when it comes to appearing on the ballot,” he said.

Salmon said he first got drawn into election law in 2017, when he read that election ballots were only printed in English in the town of Dover, where a majority of the population is Hispanic. He filed a pro bono suit and lost at the trial court level. But at the Appellate Division he won a ruling ordering that ballots for Dover should be bilingual. “From there it kind of spiraled and grew and my name got out there and I started getting more and more calls,” he said.

As for this year’s general election, Salmon said he expects “there’s going to be a lot of chaos.”

“I think, in my experience with elections administrators in New Jersey, they are all nonpartisan. They’re very good at their job,” Salmon said. “They do their best to run clean and fair elections. And so in my experience, when we have things that happen, [they are] gonna be coming from a candidate’s campaign, rather than actual issues with the voting process.”

Link to the article:

https://www.law.com/njlawjournal/2024/06/27/who-is-scott-salmon-meet-the-lawyer-challenging-kennedys-candidacy/?slreturn=20240528145347

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