Constitution Party candidates off Pa. ballot

Pennsylvania voters dissatisfied with President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will have one fewer option on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Virgil Goode, the Constitution Party nominee for president, withdrew from the Pennsylvania ballot because of insufficient nominating petitions. Also falling by the wayside were Alan Goodrich and Donna Fike, the Constitution Party candidates for auditor general and state treasurer, respectively.

Democrats and Republicans needed to collect just 2,000 signatures to get Obama and Romney on the primary ballot. Minor parties needed to submit 20,601 signatures by an Aug. 1 deadline.

That figure represents 2 percent of the votes cast for the highest vote getter in the 2011 statewide elections. Democrat David Wecht received 1,030,004 votes last November in winning a seat on Superior Court.

The state GOP wanted the Constitution Party off the ballot, figuring that its conservative candidates would take votes away from Republicans. Goode, of Virginia, is a former congressman who was elected as a Democrat before switching to become an independent and later a Republican.

The Constitution Party probably would not have had enough valid signatures to stay on the ballot after a complete review. The petitions included duplicate signatures and signatures of unregistered voters. The party last week agreed to withdraw rather than being ordered by the courts to pay the legal bills of Republican lawyers.

The failure to gain a spot on the Pennsylvania ballot is particularly embarrassing to the Constitution Party, since its vice presidential nominee is Jim Clymer, a Lancaster attorney.

The state GOP is also seeking to knock off Libertarian candidates. The Libertarian candidate for president is Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico. He sought the Republican presidential nomination, but dropped out when his campaign failed to attract much support.

The Libertarians must survive a court challenge to remain on the ballot.

In the past, the state Democratic Party has muscled the Green Party off the ballot. This year, Democrats did not challenge the Green Party petitions. Thus, Jill Stein will appear on the state ballot for president. Her running mate is Cheri Honkala, a longtime Philadelphia activist for affordable housing.

In related news, city Republicans let the Aug. 23 deadline pass to replace candidate George Weiss in the 170th Legislative District. Weiss dropped out in the spring, saying that a campaign would have taken too much time away from his family and real estate business. The GOP’s failure to recruit a replacement means Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle will be unopposed

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Democrat William Dunbar continues his active campaign to unseat state Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.).

Dunbar recently completed a goal of knocking on doors in all 66 divisions of the district. The challenger plans to visit each home twice more before the election.

“You can win a local race by simply meeting the voters again and again. That is my plan,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Dunbar campaign on Saturday handed out school supplies and water ice to people at Samuel Recreation Center in Port Richmond.

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Several GOP candidates gathered last week at Congregations of Shaare Shamayim for a 58th Ward Republican Committee meeting.

The crowd included hopefuls Joe Rooney (13th Congressional District), Mike Tomlinson (5th Senatorial District) and Dave Kralle (169th Legislative District), along with Joe McGarrity, a representative of David Freed, who is running for state attorney general.

Rooney, a Delta Air Lines pilot and retired Marine, faulted Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz for what he believes is a low profile in the community.

The two candidates disagree sharply on abortion. Rooney is pro-life, while Schwartz is pro-choice. Rooney hopes to capitalize on the issue.

“I need every Catholic vote in Northeast Philadelphia,” he said.

Tomlinson described himself as a “pro-union Republican.” He’s challenging Democratic Sen. Mike Stack. He’s knocking on doors every day and told the crowd he is getting a good reception. He is erecting lawn signs that once belonged to Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, of Bucks County. The name “Mike” is taped over “Tommy” on the signs.

Kralle lost a special election to Democrat Ed Neilson in April by 524 votes. He said polls showed him with a slight lead until negative mailings late in the campaign. The two will have a rematch in November.

“I’m not going negative,” Kralle said.

Kralle predicted that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will reject the redistricting maps passed by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. That plan will move the 169th district to York County, beginning in 2014. Kralle said he will try to keep the district in Philadelphia.

Kralle criticized Mayor Michael Nutter’s support of the Actual Value Initiative, which critics contend will lead to higher real estate taxes.

“He’s trying to fleece us on property taxes,” the candidate said.

Others in attendance included city elections commissioner Al Schmidt, Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans chairman Steve Boc and Joe DeFelice and Brian McCann, who are working for the state Republican Party on behalf of Mitt Romney and other GOP candidates.

DeFelice explained that the GOP has recruited hundreds of minority-party inspectors in North and West Philadelphia, where Republicans are few and far between. The goal, he said, is to ensure a fair election. He pointed to a well-publicized incident on Election Day in 2008, when several members of the New Black Panther Party were accused of intimidating voters at a polling place at 1221 Fairmount Ave. One of the men carried a nightstick.