Jim Foster files counter challenge to Brian Rudnick’s nominating petitions

Independent City Council candidate Jim Foster says his rival Brian Rudnick is not who he says he is.

Brian Rudnick filed to run as the “Green Party” candidate but Foster, an independent candidate, says Rudnick is not the Greens’ nominee.

“He used them as his party, during the whole process of filing his petitions, to make people think that the Green Party had endorsed him,” Foster said.


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Brian who?

The Green Party of Philadelphia has not endorsed Rudnick’s campaign. It issued this e-mail confirming that. It says the Rudnick didn’t go through the proper channels to earn the nomination, “Mr. Rudnick has thus far circumvented GPOP’s formal process for candidacy approval which requires the general membership to approve his run for public office.”

On Monday, Foster, the publisher of The Germantown Chronicle and The Northwest Independent, filed a challenge to Rudnick’s nominating petitions asking a court to disqualify the Green Party member from the November ballot.

Both Foster and Rudnick are seeking to have their names listed on the November ballot as Eighth District Council candidates.

The only person guaranteed a spot is Cindy Bass, the Democratic nominee, who won her party’s May primary.

All three are seeking the council seat being vacated by Donna Reed Miller.


Rudnick’s response

Rudnick replies that he can call himself the Philadelphia Green Party candidate because the Philadelphia Greens no longer have rules against this.

Rudnick says that the Green Party of Pennsylvania lost its “minor party” status and is now a “political body.” Rudnick, who is an attorney, says that any by-laws that once applied to Philadelphia Green Party are no longer applicable. He says the Green Party never updated these by-laws so in effect it’s a group of politically minded people with no rules.

The Green Party of Philadelphia’s by-laws on its website do appear to be written as if its status is a minor party. Regarding nominaton of candidates for public office, the by-laws say:

“Should the Green Party lose its minor party status, or acquire major party status, these bylaws shall be amended accordingly.”

Rudnick concedes that not all Green Party members are happy about him running as “The Green Party candidate.” On Tuesday, Rudnick said, in an effort to “appease” some of his critics, he would use the label “Independent Green” on campaign literature. But he maintains that he had the right to use the Green Party candidate designation on his nominating petitions. Rudnick sent this email to the local Green Party this morning that he describes as an “olive branch.”

Foster’s challenge is just one of three filed in the Eighth District Council race before Monday’s deadline for challenging third party and independent candidates.


Foster under fire

The other two petition challenges are aimed at Foster, who decided to run for council only six-days before the Aug 1 deadline.

Brian Rudnick filed a challenge to Jim Foster’s petitions last week. In this case, Rudnick claims nearly a third of the 875 signatures Foster turned in should be thrown out. (See full story)

Cindy Bass also filed a challenge to Foster’s petitions. On Monday afternoon, when Foster found out that Bass was also trying boot him out of the race he left NewsWorks this voicemail: “Jim Foster is the most formidable candidate in Philadelphia. With four hours to go (before the deadline to challenge petitions) Cindy Bass and her machine are challenging me too. Stand-by, I will fight these bastards to the death. You can print it.”

A Bass campaign spokesman says Cindy Bass doubted Foster’s ability to collect so many signatures in so little time.

“We had heard that Foster was trying to get on the ballot at the last minute and that raised some questions; it’s a pretty tough process,” said Joe Corrigan the deputy campaign manager for finance for Bass.

Foster has a different theory on why Bass decided to challenge his petitions. “The Democratic city machine is all of the sudden seriously concerned that an independent who garnered a full 550 votes in the last election (2007 Eighth District Council race) is a threat, a threat, to the coronation of Cindy Bass,” he said. 

This morning Foster sent this email out to his potential supporters acknowledging that his petitions may have some problems but stated that his candidacy was important to the democratic process. In it he said his campaign is needed to stimulate debate over important issues and that if he does get knocked out it will be more of a technical knock out.

The hearings

By city law a hearing must be held by tomorrow (8/11/11) but as of late Tuesday neither Rudnick or Foster had a hearing date set. A ruling must be made no later than August 16. (See Committee of Seventy)


The ‘threat’ followed by an apology

NewsWorks reported on Saturday that Jim Foster said he received a “threatening” message that he later learned was from Brian Rudnick’s attorney Larry Otter.

Foster says he received an apology in an email from Rudnick. Here is a portion of that message:

“Being represented by an attorney (Larry Otter) in a legal matter that involves you precludes me having direct contact with you about it.

However, I am making a very small exception to express my regrets over any remarks my representatives may have made that you perceived as threatening. Perhaps they were.

What is important to me is how you perceived them and for that I apologize publicly.”

Foster says he accepts the apology but says he’s not sure what it’s worth.

“What does it mean? This is a guy that likes to pick up rocks and throw them. He wants to call me an old fatty, in his version of the words, this is another example of the unprofessional conduct for someone running for City Council,” Foster said.

The “old fatty” reference Foster mentions stems from comments Rudnick made to NewsWorks that he had his doubts whether Foster had enough stamina to collect the hundreds of signatures for his petitions. The exact words regarding Foster were, “(Foster is) a little older and a little wider than I am.”

The apology stems from a message that Rudnick’s attorney Larry Otter had relayed to Foster.

Foster told NewsWorks that last week he got a call from Peter Wirs who said he had a message from one of the candidates. The message was in Foster’s words: “If you want to have anything left of your reputation, you will go down to the city commission and pull your ballots. … If you don’t you will be prosecuted for election fraud.”

He later learned that the message originated from Rudnick’s attorney. Otter denies he threatened Foster and says it was just a courtesy call to let Foster know that his petitions might be challenged.

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