Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe to award the organization line to Joshi against Mahesh Bhagia in the June primary election
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is taking sides in Edison, endorsing Sam Joshi for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New Jersey’s fifth largest municipality, according to a report in New Jersey Globe.
Murphy’s endorsement follows a decision by Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe to award the organization line to Joshi against Mahesh Bhagia in the June primary election, the Globe report said.
“I’m proud to endorse Sam Joshi for Mayor of Edison. Sam has the experience, passion, and vision needed to unite Edison and continue its role as one of New Jersey’s most thriving and diverse communities,” Murphy said, as per the Globe report. “As mayor, Sam will create a new township master plan and prioritize smart investments, such as municipal broadband.”
Bhagia, the beleaguered Edison Democratic Municipal Chairman, has been accused of masterminding a racist flyer in the final days of the 2017 campaign that Murphy has referred to as “offensive.”
McCabe cited Bhagia’s connection to the scandal – he’s one of the Edison Eight that were implicated by U.S. Postal Inspectors – as justification to deny the line to Bhagia, and called Joshi “an effective and ethical elected official.”
“In 2017, a despicable flyer was sent to Edison voters that attacked members of the East and South Asian communities, which appears to have been calculated to use racism to increase voter turnout by sowing division in our community,” McCabe said, as per the Globe. “A subsequent federal investigation has identified up to eight people allegedly involved in creating and disseminating this mailing, many (if not all) of whom are closely affiliated with Mr. Bhagia. It has also been reported that Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has launched a state investigation into this matter.”
Grewal has empaneled a grand jury to probe the mailer, which recently issued subpoenas seeking document related to the Edison council’s own investigation.
“As Chair, it is my responsibility to ensure that our organization is insulated from any kind of potential exposure and to protect the integrity of the county line,” stated McCabe. “The involvement of the Office of Attorney General, coupled with news reports that have alleged Chairman Bhagia’s direct involvement in this matter, make me gravely concerned that this ongoing investigation will pose political harm to other candidates running under our banner.”
McCabe also pointed to a decision by Bhagia allies, including Mohin Patel, a school board member who is among the Edison Eight, to forge their own organization line also played a role in his decision.
“A slate of candidates aligned with Mr. Bhagia is challenging our outstanding LD-18 legislators, county surrogate and county commissioners,” said McCabe. “As chair of the Edison Democratic Organization, Mr. Bhagia is aligned with these challengers, many of whom are in his inner circle and at least one of whom was named in the federal investigation into this racist 2017 mailing.
McCabe said it was “remarkable that Mr. Bhagia sought the MCDO line while remaining silent about this challenge by his allies to the same candidates he seeks to run alongside”, the report added.