Critz Challenges Altmire Petitions

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Looks like there’s more trouble in the Twelfth Congressional District.  Congressman Mark Critz has challenged the nominating petitions submitted by Congressman Jason Altmire in a bid to have Altmire removed from the primary ballot, virtually ensuring a Critz primary victory.  The Critz campaign released the following statement:

The campaign for Congressman Mark Critz today filed objections to Congressman Jason Altmire’s nominating petitions to appear on the ballot in the April 24 Democratic Primary. Altmire submitted 1651 petitions of which 942 are invalid, leaving him far short of the 1000 signatures required to appear on the ballot.

“All candidates for office are required to follow state law when gathering signatures for nominating petitions and Members of Congress are not exempt,” Critz campaign attorney Scott Caulfield said. “It is clear that Jason Altmire’s campaign did not follow the law in this process and lacks the number of signatures required under law. Therefore, he does not qualify to appear on the ballot.”

Hundreds of signatures appeared on petitions circulated by an Altmire staffer who currently lives in the City of Pittsburgh – outside the district. Some petitions are invalid for technical reasons such as individuals are not registered Democrats or are duplicates, but many also appear to have been forged by a circulator.

942 signatures are challenged for the following reasons:

610 Defective Circulator’s Affidavits
115 Line Information Omitted
87 Illegible
85 Nicknames or Initials
79 Not Registered
66 Omitted or Incorrect Municipality
64 Line Information in the Hand of Another
38 Not Registered at Address
33 Not Registered Democrats
24 Invalid Dates
22 Duplicate Signatures
17 Struck Before Filing
16 Struck by Pennsylvania Department of Commonwealth
12 Signed After Circulator’s Affidavit Dated
8 Printed Signatures
1 Printed and Signed Different Names

NOTE: THESE NUMBERS ADD UP TO GREATER THAN 951 BECAUSE SOME SIGNATURES ARE CHALLENGED FOR MULTIPLE REASONS.

The full court challenge is available here, but I’ve done you all the favor of reading the entire document and I’ve picked out some of the most interesting pieces:

It is asserted on page 7 that “[a]n individual identified as Abigail Silverman circulated Signature Pages 2, 4, 13,19, 20, 36, 39, 40, 41, 44, 45, 46, 68, 72, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 85, 86, 87, 94, 96, and 97containing a total of 395 signatures.Upon information and belief, Circulator does not reside at the address set forth in the Circulator’s Affidavits.”

That’s a lot of signatures…

Here’s another typical example:

“An individual identified as Eric Cesaratto circulated Signature Page 90, 91, 92,and 98, containing a total of 35 signatures. The Circulator’s Affidavit on such Signature Pages identify the Circulator’s city, borough, or township as “North Washington Township.” Upon information and belief, Circulator’s township is “Washington Township” and his mailing address is “Apollo.” See Exhibit B, Signature Pages 90, 91, 92, and 98. Petitioner-Objectors believe and therefore aver that all of the signatures on Signature Pages 90, 91, 92, and 98 should be stricken because the Circulator’s Affidavits on such Signature Pages are defective.”

On page 11, the Critz campaign gets a little bit greedy.  Not only do they want Altmire removed from the Primary ballot, they want him to pay for the proceedings! The Critz campaign “pray[s] that this Honorable Court enter an Order providing relief as follows:

Ordering Jason Altmire and/or his official campaign or campaign committee to remit payment for the costs of these proceedings, including but not limited to the fees of witnesses, experts, attorneys, and other reasonable costs incurred by Petitioner-Objectors in bringing this Petition before the Court.”

We’ll keep you updated, it looks like this is going to get very ugly.

About Jake Sternberger

Jake Sternberger is a recovering/relapsing political professional who has been a contributor to Keystone Politics since 2011. Sternberger covers campaigns and elections for KP, drawing from his experience working on local, county, congressional, and statewide PA races doing field, oppo, comms, and as CM. He is currently a law student. Email: jakes@keystonepolitics.com Twitter: @JakeSternberger
This entry was posted in Elections, National Politics, Open Government, Pittsburgh / SW Region, Regional Politics.

3 Responses to Critz Challenges Altmire Petitions

  1. jongeeting says:

    The other interesting bit here is that Altmire only submitted 1651 petititons in the first place. That seems super low. First-time candidates are getting more than that. The fact that he had to rely on volunteers from outside the district also seems to suggest that Altmire is having trouble getting buy-in from Democratic activists. Guess it's not surprising that Democratic primary volunteers don't want to do the hard work of campaigning for a dude who goes on Fox News to bash his own party.

  2. JoyfulA says:

    Yes, that low count is interesting. Whenever I've gathered signatures, the rule of thumb is getting at least 3 times the legal minimum because a low number encourages the opposition to get out the fine-tooth combs.. That's a sloppy operation on Altmire's part for an incumbent, and smart and lucky for Critz.

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