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Documents Filed Challenging Jay Paterno's Nominating Petitions in Race for Lt. Gov.

by on March 18, 2014 5:45 AM

Court papers filed with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ask to have Jay Paterno knocked off the ballot in the lieutenant governor's race.

The challenge was filed by an attorney representing  Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski. Koplinski is Paterno's political rival and is one of the six Democrats running for lieutenant governor.

The primary election will be held on May 20.

Attorney Larry Otter tells StateCollege.com that many of the petition signatures the Paterno campaign gathered to get on the ballot are invalid.

Candidates must submit a minimum of 1,000 signatures. At least 100 signatures must come from each of five different counties.

According to Otter, Paterno submitted 1,117 signatures that were collected in Chester, Mifflin, Philadelphia, Allegheny and Centre Counties. Otter claims there are less than 1,000 valid signatures total. On top of that, Otter contends there are less than 100 valid signatures on petitions from three counties, including Chester, Mifflin and Philadelphia.

"Any one of those takes him off the ballot," Otter says. "It's just a lot of mistakes. For instance he ran as a Democrat and a number of Republicans signed his petition pages. That's a strike if you challenge it." Otter also claims that some people signed more than once.

People who sign must live in the county where the signatures are collected. Otter says, "He had people from Huntingdon, Centre, Juniata and Dauphin Counties on a Mifflin petition. They don't count."

A statement released by Koplinski's campaign says it's a matter of fairness, "The Commonwealth sets out rules to make sure that all candidates have an even playing field to run for office.  Candidates are mandated to meet the criteria necessary to gain ballot access. We are asking the Commonwealth Court to review the signatures in question to enforce fairness and justice in the system."

Paterno has never run for elected office before. He was formerly an assistant football coach at Penn State. Last week, Paterno told StateCollege.com that he's confident the petition signatures he submitted are valid.

A statement released by the Paterno campaign Monday evening says, "We are going to follow the legal process to make sure the voices of Pennsylvanians are heard."

Otter says he expects the court will schedule a hearing, probably sometime next week. "These are a black and white issues," he says. You're either a registered Democrat or you're not. You're registered in Mifflin County or you're not. Its all based on the records ... that come from those counties."

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Steve Bauer is Managing Editor & Chief Content Officer at StateCollege.com. Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy. You can e-mail Steve at Steve.Bauer@StateCollege.com and you can follow him on Twitter @SteveBauerSCcom
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