A Commonwealth Court Judge has denied the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s motion to substitute a new candidate for a special election to a North Philadelphia state House seat. The move means the Republican Party could win the overwhelmingingly Democratic district in a March 21 election.
The party’s initial contender, Frederick Ramirez, was found not to live in the district and yanked from the ballot.
The decision leaves Republican candidate Lucinda Little as the only choice for voters.
The seat has been vacant since the previous Democratic representative, Leslie Acosta, resigned after pleading guilty to a money-laundering charge.
The party sought to substitute Emilio Vasquez, a Democratic ward leader and employee of the Philadelphia Parking Authority, as a replacement candidate for Ramirez.
But Judge Anne Covey, the same judge who removed Ramirez from the ballot, ruled that the election code provides for a replacement candidate only when the original nominee dies or withdraws. Frederick, she wrote, was removed because of his residency problem.
The Democratic Party is appealing the ruling to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Republican lawyers filed the challenge to Ramirez’s residency. If Little win the special election, the Republicans will have three representatives in the city’s Harrisburg delegation, the strongest showing the party’s made in many years.