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GOP trying to strike Dillon from ballot

From left: Chris Guest, of Laborers District Council; Jim Donnelly, 58th Ward Democratic leader; Shawn Dillon; Fran McLaughlin, assistant business manager, District Council 21.

Republicans are hoping to knock Democrat Shawn Dillon off the ballot in the May 17 special election in the 5th Senatorial District, saying his campaign failed to file a statement of financial interest with the state ethics commission by the March 28 deadline.

Four people, led by longtime 45th Ward Republican leader Kevin Pasquay, filed the challenge in Commonwealth Court.

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Not filing the form, Pasquay and the others say, is a fatal defect that should disqualify Dillon from the ballot.

The Republican candidate is Sam Oropeza, a real estate agent who runs a nonprofit called Rescuing Streets through Clean-Ups [RSCU].

The seat has been vacant since the beginning of the year, when John Sabatina Jr. became a Common Pleas Court judge.

If Dillon is unable to remain on the ballot, he or some other Democrat could run as a write-in.

However, the new voting machines do not make it easy to conduct a successful write-in campaign.

More likely, Democratic ward leaders would meet to choose a replacement.

A decision on how the Democrats will move forward is expected by Monday, as there is no timeline as to when the court will decide on the challenge.

When Dillon won the endorsement, other contenders were state Rep. Ed Neilson, former Lt. Gov. Mike Stack and a couple of ward leaders.

Now that there might have to be a replacement, there is some talk of nominating a candidate who would serve only the remainder of Sabatina’s term and not run for re-election in 2024. Democrats have named a couple of ward leaders and a couple of Dillon’s relatives as possible choices, with his brother Jim a contender. ••

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