Candidates in several Pennsylvania primary elections are trying to throw their opponents off the ballot, through legal petition challenges.
Candidates in several Pennsylvania primary elections are trying to throw their opponents off the ballot, through legal petition challenges.[audio:100318SDCHALL.mp3]
Candidates need to meet minimum petition thresholds to appear on the primary ballot. A state House candidate needs 300 signatures, while someone running for Congress requires 1,000.
If anyone thinks rival campaigns’ forms are filled with invalid signatures, they can appeal to Commonwealth Court, which will then scrutinize the filings.
Franklin and Marshall College political scientist Terry Madonna says there’s a certain strategy behind the challenges.
You would file a petition challenge if you think the person has insufficient petitions based on inability to follow the state’s election code; if you think participation by that person on the ballot is likely to hurt your candidacy. On the other hand, if there’s a candidate on the ballot that you think hurts your opponent, you’re not going to go after their petitions and try to knock them off the ballot.
Congressional candidates Pat Meehan and incumbent Kathy Dahlkemper are facing challenges, as are several people running against sitting state lawmakers.
In all, close to 90 challenges have been filed.