Three Republicans running for office in New Jersey say they were barred from participating in the Hispanic State Parade because of politically-motivated efforts to undermine them by the event’s organizers.
They are threatening to sue, and have demanded an official explanation for being denied participation.
The Republicans, who have lodged their allegations in a letter, say that parade organizers used “Gestapo tactics” to keep them out of the parade, according to the Jersey Journal.
The organizers say the candidates – one is running for Hudson County Executive, and the other two are running for state Assembly – did not comply with regulations for participating.
"As we approached the start line at the intersection of Bergenline Avenue and 79th Street," the letter says, according to the Journal, "(parade coordinator Victor) Dominguez walked over to our float and almost immediately ... at least four North Bergen police officers on motorcycles surrounded the float."
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Another local publication, the Hudson County View, quoted one of the candidates, Garrett Simulcik Jr., who is an attorney, as saying that “all of us, our supporters and our float” were forced out of the parade by one of the event's organizers in addition to North Bergen police.
He said that just before the parade began, they were approached and told “we are not allowed to be here” without further explanation, the Hudson County View said, adding that Simulcik noted that “seemingly almost every local elected official participated in the parade."
The candidates are Hudson County Executive candidate Ivan Sutherland, and state Assembly contenders Simulcik and Herminio Mendoza.
The election will take place Nov. 3.
In the letter, which was written by Simulcik, the Republican candidates demanded an explanation within 10 days or they would pursue a lawsuit.
"I still have not received any formal response from the parade at all,” Simulcik said to the Journal. “Once I receive that response, I'll review it accordingly” and decide whether to take legal action.
The candidates say they were mindful about the steps required to be on their campaign float in the parade, and that as recently as the day before the parade, they were assured that they were approved, the Journal said. The other publication, the Hudson County View, quoted the candidates as saying that it was clear in their communication with parade organizers that their float was going to have campaign themes, and there was no objection to it.
Hudson County Republican Party Chairman Jose Arango confirmed their spot in the parade, the newspaper added.
Arango, who had been scheduled to be honored at the parade, told the newspaper that he told the organizers that he was bringing the candidates as his guests.
Hispanic State Parade organizers said in a statement to the Journal that Mendoza, Simulcik and Sutherland failed to fill out requisite insurance and registration information documents for having a float in the event.
They also said the parade is “apolitical” and that campaign promotional materials are not permitted.
"If any campaign has participated in previous years it has been without our permission and without our consent," the statement read. "We welcome people from all backgrounds and do not discriminate against political affiliations. However, we do not allow campaigning during the parade."
Arango, for his part, characterized the parade drama as a byproduct of Hudson County politics, skewed toward the "Democratic machine."
"Hudson County is a one-party system, that's basically what it is," he said, according to the Journal.
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