Recently, Toms River's Independent Mayoral Candidate Donald Flett announced plans to form an independent political party after garnering 4% of the vote in last Tuesday's elections.   What does it take to create a formal political party in New Jersey?

After talking to Toms River Township Clerk Mark Mutter, we learned that starting political parties begin at the state level.  Mutter says citizens would go to the State Election Law Enforcement Commission to form a political party. A local unnamed expert at the County level says there are several formal political parties in New Jersey already but they have to get a certain percent of votes to qualify.

According to the Mondo Political website, besides Republicans and Democrats, there are 10 other political parties in New Jersey. The include:

American Reform Party of New Jersey
Constitution party of New Jersey
Green Party of New Jersey
Natural Law Party of New Jersey
New Jersey Conservative Party
New Jersey Independents
New Jersey Libertarian party
Reform Party of New Jersey
Socialist Party of New Jersey
Socialist Workers Party of New Jersey

According Mutter you don't need to be a member of a political party to run for Municipal Office in New Jersey.  He says "There's no requirement to form a separate political organization. An independent candidate would submit petitions directly to the office of Municipal Clerk which would then review."

However, Mutter says it isn't easy for an independent party to win an election in New Jersey.  He says "we've had a two-party system since 1860 since the election of Abraham Lincoln and that's been our history now for over 150 years.  So its something that's institutionalized in American Democracy."   Mutter also says "a large segment of the registered voters in the voting population base clearly identify themselves with the organized Republican or the organized Democrat parties and that takes a large segment of the voting population out of the voting base for an Independent.

In Toms River's history, an independent candidate winning a Municipal race isn't that far-fetched.  Mutter says eight years ago an Independent won its first elected Mayoral race that placed former Mayor Paul Brush in office.