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Jay Paterno Withdraws from Lt. Gov. Race After Petitions Challenged

by on March 28, 2014 4:21 PM

Jay Paterno, son of the late Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, announced Friday he is withdrawing from the race for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor.

Paterno sent an email to supporters Friday announcing he intends to withdraw from the race. Around the same time, he issued this Tweet:

"There are times in life when personal ambitions should give way for the good of the whole."

Last week, an attorney representing Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski filed papers with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania asking to have Paterno knocked off the ballot. Koplinski is Paterno's political rival and is one of the six Democrats running for lieutenant governor.

Paterno told supporters Friday, "As you may be aware there has been a legal challenge brought to remove me from the ballot based on challenging our petitions. We could fight this on Monday in court. Regardless of that outcome there are other potential avenues that could drag out over time, remaining a distraction throughout the primary. That would benefit no one so I have decided to step away."

In a prepared statement for the news media, Paterno says he does not want an ongoing legal battle to distract from the race.

"While I have always believed that you fight for what is right, there are times in life when personal ambitions should give way for the good of the whole. To that end, I'm stepping away," he says.

The primary election is 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.

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.

"We are going to follow the legal process to make sure the voices of Pennsylvanians are heard," his campaign said in a statement.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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