A ballot challenge among friends in Montco congressional race

Madeleine Dean, Mary Jo Daley

Left: Representative Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery (AP Photo/Chris Knight) Right: State Rep. Mary Jo Daley (Emma Lee/WHYY)

There aren’t many ballot challenges to the 35 candidates who filed for the six Pennsylvania congressional seats in the Philadelphia area, but one involves two friends.

State Rep. Madeleine Dean has challenged the candidacy of fellow state Rep. Mary Jo Daley for the Democratic nomination for the newly created 4th Congressional seat in Montgomery County.

Dean, of Abington, and Daley, of Narberth, are both two-term legislators and allies in Harrisburg.

Dean’s challenge says 1,199 of Daley’s 2,019 nominating signatures are invalid for a variety of reasons.

Dean campaign manager Megan Caska told me Daley submitted a couple of pages of petitions nominating the wrong candidate. One was for Dean, the other for former Congressman Joe Hoeffel, who’s also in the race.

And she said there were other problems.

“There are many signatures and pages that appear to be signed by the same hand,” Caska said.

Daley’s attorney, Liz Roggio, described the challenge as “the typical gamesmanship” you see in these efforts.

There are often glitches in nominating petitions, she said. As for the petitions in the names of the wrong candidates, she said, “sometimes you will have [petition] circulators who collect signatures for multiple candidates, and sometimes they put a petition in the wrong packet.”

Roggio said she won’t object to striking those two petitions, which contain a total of 23 signatures. Since Daley submitted more than twice the required 1,000 signatures, she said, she doubts the issue will even get to a court hearing.

“We feel confident that we’re going to be fine and that Mary Jo Daley will have no issue qualifying for the ballot,” Roggio said.

The case will be heard in Commonwealth Court if attorneys for the two sides can’t reach an agreement on whether there are enough valid signatures for Daley to remain on the ballot.

Also in the Democratic primary are Hoeffel and Shira Goodman.

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