Thursday, March 16, 2006

Supposing We Held An Election and All of the Candidates Were Disqualified?

Earlier this year, I attended a couple of political type functions and was greeted not with handshakes, but with petitions to sign. Everyone running for office tries to gather as many signatures as possible in order to qualify for placement on the primary election ballot. I signed about half a dozen petitions, some for people I never even heard of, but hey, I'm a Republican and a constituent, not to mention a live human being, so I didn't mind scribbling my name in the box.

Some signatures, however, are questioned for a number of reasons (wrong party, wrong address, already dead, etc.). 2006 is a big year for petition challenges:

The race to get on the May primary ballot is turning into a roller derby with candidates maneuvering in court to throw competitors off the ballot.

Eighty-one Commonwealth Court challenges have been filed seeking to have candidates disqualified, claiming invalid petition signatures, incomplete forms, failure to meet residency requirements and, in one case, contending that a candidate's criminal record bars him from running.
Who says politics is boring? What makes these challenges especially interesting is that most of them -- this being a primary election campaign -- come from within the prospective candidate's own party.

"This is without precedent," said G. Terry Madonna, head of the Keystone Poll at Franklin & Marshall College. "You've got party people challenging non-endorsed people, you've got incumbents going against challengers, you've got organizations filing suits. It's chaotic. It's wild."
Man, talk about political parties. Who's bringing the keg? Probably those who are out for blood after last year's legislative pay raise fiasco:

The challenges are part of the continuing fallout from the pay raises lawmakers gave themselves last summer and later repealed because of voter outrage, he said.

"The pay hike has created extraordinary political instability and everybody is trying to clear the decks," he said.
One of the targeted payjacking incumbents is my local representative, Tom Petrone. Mr. Petrone, a Democrat, has been in office for a long time, and routinely cruises to victory with little or no opposition in either the primary or general election. This year he has a Republican challenger to look forward to -- if he can make it through the primary. He stands a good chance at winning, if only because his opponents are having some petition challenges:

The nomination of Mike Galovich, a Democrat running against incumbent Rep. Tom Petrone of Crafton Heights, is being challenged by Daniel E. Cindric, who claims some people who signed Mr. Galovich's petition are not registered voters, don't live in the district or used nicknames instead of their legal names when signing.

Mr. Galovich filed a challenge against another opponent, Democrat Michael J. Crossey, alleging that Mr. Crossey does not live in the 27th District. Mr. Crossey, a former Allegheny County councilman from Mt. Lebanon, has said he moved to Dormont a year ago.

Just last weekend, my wife signed Mr. Crossey's petition. (He was going door-to-door collecting signatures.) She's a Democrat, so she was okay. If Mike Crossey had a copy of the voter lists (which all candidates running for office should and usually do obtain from the county), he would know that there was only one D in the house. But what if he didn't have it with him? I could have signed the petition and sent him on his way, then tipped off one of his opponents that there was something fishy about one of the signatures. That would be mean, though. And the fireworks have already started.

It's time to tap that keg and find out just how wild these political parties can get.


jipzeecab said...

Representative Stevenson (R) Mt. Lebanon came to my door last week and asked me to sign his petition which I did. He told me that the petition allows him to avoid paying a filing fee and motivates him to get out and meet his constituents.
I pointed out to him that my actual true "signature" would probably be challenged because it is about 10 times more illegible than your favorite proctologist's but he allowed me to sign anyway.
I'll now have fantesies that some dope will challenge his petition based on my signature and get yelled out for wasting the election supervisor's time.

Nicko McDave said...

...and, as he walked away, Tom Stevenson quietly muttered, "How on Earth did he know that my favorite proctologist has such bad handwriting?"