Paterno Petitions Ripe for a Challenge

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Of Pennsylvania’s top-of-the-ticket Democratic candidates who filed nominating petitions Tuesday, lieutenant governor candidate Jay Paterno’s petitions appear to be the most susceptible to a legal challenge.

Candidates for lieutenant governor are required to submit 1,000 signatures with at least 100 coming from 5 different counties.

Keystone Politics manually counted the signatures in Paterno’s filing, which contained 1,117 signatures from 17 counties, based on the electronic copies at the Department of State website.

Although the DoS website shows signature folders from only 12 counties, various folders included petitions from counties other than those listed. So, we manually sorted them ourselves to get a correct count.

Paterno narrowly met the 100 from 5 county threshold, with 185 in Allegheny, 305 in Centre, 109 in Chester, 108 in Mifflin, and 119 in Philadelphia.

In no county other than these 5 did Paterno pass the 100 signature threshold.

So, to have Paterno removed from the ballot, all that a challenger would have to do is get 9 signatures struck in Mifflin or 10 struck in Chester to get Paterno below the required amount.

Even though Mifflin and Chester seem to be the path of least numerical resistance to a potential challenger, it is Paterno’s signatures from Philadelphia and Allegheny counties that appear to be the most facially vulnerable.

Paterno’s Philadelphia numbers include 90 signatures circulated by two residents of Philadelphia, and 29 signatures obtained by Diana Paterno of Springfield Township, Montgomery County.

On each of Ms. Paterno’s 4 Philadelphia petitions (29 signatures), she appears to have incorrectly executed the Affidavit of Circulator before the Notary. On each petition, Ms. Paterno states that the county of petition signers is Montgomery, not Philadelphia.

If those 29 signatures were removed, Paterno would have only 90 signatures in Philadelphia, taking him 10 below the amount required for his Philadelphia signatures to count toward the 5 counties above 100 requirement.

In his Allegheny County petitions, Paterno executed Affidavits of Circulator on 6 petitions circulated on Sunday, March 9 which contain 157 of his total 185 Allegheny signatures. It is unlikely that Paterno managed to personally collect all of these in a single day. As a result, his Affidavit of Circulator could realistically be challenged.

All that an opponent would have to do is identify a few people from the Allegheny County petitions who signed and inquire about the circulator who handled the petition they signed. A successful circulator challenge would bring Paterno well below the 100 signature threshold for Allegheny, again bringing him below the 100 from 5 counties threshold.

Now the only question is who, if anyone, will challenge Paterno in court.

According to recent polling, Paterno leads the lieutenant gubernatorial pack with 17%. Former Congressman Mark Critz is close behind at 16%, and the remaining candidates (State Senator Mike Stack, Harrisburg Councilman Brad Koplinski, and State Representative Brandon Neuman) are each in the single digits.

Each candidate would seemingly benefit from having the frontrunner removed from the ballot.

About Jake Sternberger

Jake Sternberger has been a contributing writer at Keystone Politics since 2011. Sternberger primarily covers campaigns and elections, drawing from his experience working on municipal, county, congressional, and statewide PA races doing field, communications, and campaign management. He is currently a law student. Email: jakes@keystonepolitics.com Twitter: @JakeSternberger
This entry was posted in Elections, Governor.

14 Responses to Paterno Petitions Ripe for a Challenge

  1. Jessica says:

    There was an Allegheny County endorsement on Sunday and pictures show he was there. He probably did get them all in one day.

  2. steveinpgh says:

    yes he was there but he stood in line all day shaking hands with people. he did not personally get those signatures himself. he had different people going around getting them.and they are not the circulator of those petitions.paterno signed them.

  3. hallambaker says:

    Party affiliations?

    Who are these people?

  4. Dick O'Leary says:

    If Sternberger thinks he can just take out Paterno, he has another thing coming. Penn State football is the best thing to happen to this state, unlike Jake Sternberger and his liberal allies in Harrisburg. We need politicians in PA who run the government similar to the great PSU football program. Which has a proven record of sucess and amazing results. Sternberger is just jealous that he is part of the PSU winning tradition.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Why did Paterno make so many rookie mistakes with his nominating petitions? This is easy stuff.

    • Dick:
      Why are you missing the point. Jake isn’t stating whether he likes Paterno or not. He’s just pointing out the facts of the bare-knuckle fight that is politics. Get a grip!! Also, Penn State football isn’t the best thing that’s happened to PA. The are more important things in life.

  5. Dick O'Leary says:

    Just for the sake of adversity. Adversity makes the candidate stronger, obviously. It’s genius, not a rookie mistake. Sternberger is an hack.

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