PA Libertarian Candidates for Guv, Lt Guv, and US Senate Withdraw

From the Associated Press via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

All three Libertarian Party nominees for statewide office in Pennsylvania abandoned their bids for the fall ballot today, leaving no third-party opposition to the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor and U.S. Senate.

Filing papers to withdraw were York lawyer Marakay Rogers, a perennial candidate who was running for governor; political newcomer Douglas Jamison, an engineer running for Senate; and Kat Valleley, a Bucks County homemaker seeking to become lieutenant governor. The action followed nearly two days of intensive scrutiny of their petition signatures.

The reason for the withdrawal is made quite clear by Ballot Access News.

They were told that if they didn’t withdraw, and the challenge showed that they don’t have enough signatures, their costs would be between $92,000 and $106,000.

Along with Green Mel Packer in the US Senate race, the Libertarian candidates will still wage a write-in campaign. Still, watch out for local Libertarian candidates for Congress and state legislature that remain on the ballot, as Pennsylvania does have several active local Libertarian affiliates.

35 thoughts on “PA Libertarian Candidates for Guv, Lt Guv, and US Senate Withdraw

  1. AroundtheblockAFT

    This is what it has been coming to in Penna. (and probably other states). Statewide petitions are sent back to the county for checking. Apparently, the loser bears the costs. Once, they didn’t care if third parties got on the ballot. Now they fear them so they play hardball with petitions (saw this in 2008 with Ron Paul convention delegate petitions). You can get twice the required signatures and still fail because legitimate registered voters use nicknames, don’t fill in addresses correctly, or a dozen other hyper-technical things that invalidate a signature.
    So how should the LPP fight back? Pick a handful of powerful Republicans who don’t have safe seats, find candidates with a good resume and campaign skills, submit bullet proof petitions, make a deal with the guy’s opponent to give you constant publicity, and actively work to peel votes away. When a few of these clowns lose their seats, go back the GOP central committee and make a deal to ease the petitioning requirements.

  2. What a waste

    All that time & energy to get ballot qualified and for what? Imagine what could have been accomplished if that time & energy was spent doing real liberty activism.

  3. NewFederalist

    Bob Milnes- your PLAS nonsense would not have helped in this case even if your math made any sense. Unless your petitioners have collected three or four times as many signatures as the minimum number required to be valid you are at major risk. Combine the LP and the GP signatures and run a combined ticket… the nominees would still be at risk of losing their homes and all their cash to state imposed fees… even if they win the challenge! If they lose… well, it’s worse because they have to pay the legal fees of the challengers as well. Total BS.

  4. NewFederalist

    #6- Carl Romanelli still is and so is Ralph Nader. To my knowledge they have not yet won. They still owe a ton of money. It is a chilling thought for a non Ross Perot type to even consider running for office in PA on any ticket of the Ds and Rs.

  5. Chuck Moulton

    Very sad. 🙁

    Pennsylvania assessing court costs on counting signatures and kicking off candidates even when they have double the necessary signatures is having a huge chilling effect on candidates running for office.

    However, I hope in the future the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania only nominates statewide candidates who agree to challenge this in court rather than capitulating with a withdraw. Withdrawing when challenged makes the whole petition drive a huge waste of money and time. It’s better to have no candidates and know that ex ante than to have a full slate of candidates who will all withdraw if challenged.

  6. Green Party Conservative

    Hats off to the Green Party’s Mel Packer and all of them for the enormous signature gathering effort.

    Be assured the work is worth it.

    People remember these petition drives, and the discipline, and political will required.

    The Green Party is filled with such patriots.

  7. Matt Cholko

    I’d be really pissed if I had spent my time or money on the petition drive. On the other hand, I understand how the prospect of a $100,000+ bill scares off the candidates.

  8. NewFederalist

    George- Yes, the challenging party is known. Their legal representatives sit right in the room with you and go through the challenged signatures. In this case the Rs challenged the Ls and the Ds challenged the Gs. No big surprise there. The challenged party gets to pay either way. If you lose you get to pay the legal costs of the challengers, too. Neat, huh?

  9. Mik Robertson

    @8 There is a lot that was gained from this effort even though the outcome is not what we would have hoped. There is a lot that will lend support to the federal appeal of our case in the 3rd Circuit Court.

    While there may have been a couple points that could have been addressed had we gone to the hearing, the bottom line was that the potential gain was not worth the risk of having the candidates lose their houses. The fees were the killer, and that could not have been remedied by pursuing the matter in the PA courts.

    I would certainly not characterize the effort as a waste. Not only did we get a great response from volunteers, who are now very fired up, we can see much more clearly what points in our process we have to change to adapt, and where we need to restructure our organization to meet the demands of the electoral process as we face it.

    This election cycle has also coalesced some diverse groups in PA over this issue. We will be working more closely with them as we move forward.

    In fact, there is a press conference scheduled for Monday, August 23 at 12:30 pm at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg to address ballot access and what it means for the voters in PA. Sen. Mike Folmer, prime sponsor of the Voters Choice Act in the legislature will be there, as will Marakay, Kat, Doug and me, VotePA, the PA LWV, Democracy Rising, and others. Afterward we will be going to meet with legislative staffers to promote the Voters Choice Act.

    @4 It is one thing to Monday morning quarterback. It is another to be a Monday morning quarterback spouting nonsense.

  10. Chuck Moulton

    If I end up moving back to PA after I finish my Ph.D. (i.e., I get a job teaching at a PA college), I’ll run for Governor as a Libertarian and defend myself against a challenge.

    PA should be doing pre-verification: associating every signature line with a voter ID in the database and noting in an excel spreadsheet possible reasons each signature could be challenged. That would make defending against lawsuits a breeze. The cost of pre-verification would be significant (perhaps an extra $0.50 – $1.00 a signature paying temp workers to do verification data entry), but it’s worth the price to have candidates on the ballot.

  11. Ralph Swanson

    In Florida pre-verification is basically what they do for 10 cents a signature and it works just fine.

  12. Mik Robertson

    @11 I should mention that there really was no question about who was filing the challenge to the LP candidates. The PAGOP spokesman, Michael Barley, said openly that they supported the petitioners in the preparation of the challenge. One of the people who filed the petition was Wally Zimolong, who is Chairman of the Federation of Young Republicans in Philadelphia.

    It should also be pointed out that I have little doubt we had more than the required number of registered voters sign our nomination papers. The problem was finding enough that we could reasonably reclaim before the judge. The hypertechincality of what counts as a valid signature made our task difficult. We knew it would not be easy when we started, but I did not expect to encounter the problems that we did.

    By the middle of the second day, after talking over what we could reasonably expect to get back from the judge, it was clear we were going to fall short. At that point it was a candidate decision on whether to proceed. I would not pressure anyone to put their personal lives in that sort of financial jeopardy, even though they were aware of this possibility when we got underway.

    I strongly suspect that there are significant problems with the voter registration database and its maintenance that makes it an unreliable source of information about the current status of registered voters.

    I firmly believe those problems made the difference between our candidates being able to successfully defend against the challenge and them not. The threat of assessment of fees is simply the stick that is used to beat them into withdrawing rather than carrying the process through.

  13. George Phillies

    @16

    As one alternative, contemplate running indigents, monastics who have taken a vow of poverty, or other people who, well, they may owe $500,000, but they are not going to be good sources for any money. As another alternative, totally trash the candidates who are behind this. Encouraging the tea partiers to follow around the people who knocked them out, and do unto them what was done unto Congressmen at the health care events is also a possibility.

  14. Darryl W. Perry

    Maybe the LP should challenge every R & D statewide petition in 2 yrs.

    I wonder what sort of “retaliation” the duopoly would impose via legislation against “minor parties”??

  15. Robert Milnes

    What I meant on @1 is that knowing you are going to lose cannot be helpful to a candidate in any situation. Getting in or deciding to get out.
    There must be at least one good solution to this problem. There are several not so good solutions, like running indigents.
    There are several such special state situations. This is why the LP & GP should hire me AND Richard Winger asap. Together we can figure out each state situation. Maybe it is somewhat late for 2010, but I am thinking 2012.
    I already have the strategy for 2012 including campaign theme. i.e. I can succeed where Teddy Roosevelt failed in 1012.
    Viability is a VERY big factor. If a third party/independent can or might win. Or if significnt numbers of people WANT the candidate to win- despite reality e.g. Ron Paul, Anderson. Even if it implies the candidate could BUY the election e.g. Perot, Bloomberg.
    Again, LP & GP hire me & Richard Winger asap. I asked a few weeks ago. Haven’t heard much since.

  16. Scott Lieberman

    “George Phillies // Aug 18, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    As another alternative, totally trash the candidates who are behind this. Encouraging the tea partiers to follow around the people who knocked them out, and do unto them what was done unto Congressmen at the health care events is also a possibility.”

    *************************************

    I disagree with Dr. Phillies 90% of the time, but the above is part of the 10% of the time that I agree with him.

    Dr. Phillies is 100% correct that you need to put political pressure on your oppressors.

    If the LP of PA wants to make ballot access easier in Pennsylvania, they need to put their State Legislator’s testicles and ovaries in vises, and then squeeze them as tightly as possible – politically speaking, of course.

    Ideally, you need to get the Legislature to change the ballot access procedure from one of presumed good until challenged, to the state checks the petitions. Anything short of that invites abuses like what just happened.

    Scott Lieberman

  17. NewFederalist

    My largest concern about this entire experience is the number of signatures required this year was very low when contrasted with recent years. If no alternative party could overcome a barrier of less than 20,000 valid signatures with enough cushion to ward off a challenge what will happen when the number becomes 65,000 or more? It has been that high in the past.

  18. AroundtheblockAFT

    Re challenging the R&P petitions. These petitions usually have a very small margin of extra signatures – say if 200 ar e needed, they’ll get 220. On the other hand, they usually gather the petition at committeemen gatherings so the validity rate is pretty damn high. But wouldn’t it be fun to challenge some incumbents petition and have him or her knocked off the primary ballot? Another thought, along the lines of Dr. Phillies suggestion, is to invade the other party primaries and run as a kook to trash the Party’s name: “Yes, I’m a communist and am running because most of my fellow Democrats are communists, too, they just won’t admit the secret. One thing we have to do is smash the unions because they are, as presently constituted, a tool of the capitalist dog ruling class.” or “I’m a Republican for polygamy, heroin legalization, taxing churches, and deporting everyone with a Spanish surname, all of which can be deduced from President Reagan’s political principles.”

  19. Richard Cooper

    @ Chuck Moulton 14. Get a high-speed scanner, although many sheets would still need to be fed by hand due to their crummy condition (folded, wrinkled, etc.).

  20. Just Saying

    New Federalist (#21) raises the most valid and troubling concern in this whole ugly episode.

  21. Just Saying

    …especially in a year of supposedly widespread discontent with both major parties.

  22. Mik Robertson

    @21 When the signature requirement was 67,000 a few years ago, turning in over 95,000 did not help Carl Romanelli. In fact it cost him over $80,000 in assessed fees.

    The GOP is characterizing this challenge effort as protecting the electorate against fraud, which is absolute nonsense. The issue if the the playing field is not only not level, the field for independents and alternative parties is almost perpendicular to that of the big parties. We are not playing on a field as much as scaling a wall.

    It is time to tear down that wall!

  23. Michael H. Wilson

    Mik it sounds like you guys need a good public relations campaign to start with.

  24. Andy

    “Mik Robertson // Aug 19, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    @21 When the signature requirement was 67,000 a few years ago, turning in over 95,000 did not help Carl Romanelli. In fact it cost him over $80,000 in assessed fees.”

    That’s because they had crap validity. I know who they hired to run the petition drive and they did a half ass job. They could have easily made it on the ballot if that petition drive had been run better.

  25. Andy

    “If the LP of PA wants to make ballot access easier in Pennsylvania, they need to put their State Legislator’s testicles and ovaries in vises, and then squeeze them as tightly as possible – politically speaking, of course.”

    Ballot access is actually pretty difficult for Democrats and Republicans in Pennsylvania. The Democrats and Republicans have to petition for ballot access too, and while they do have a lower signature requirement, they also have less time to gather signatures. Minor party and independent candidates in PA have around 6 months to get their signatures. The Democrats and Republicans only have 3 weeks and their petitioning time is in the winter. Also, only a registered Democrat can sign to put a Democrat on the ballot and only a registered Republican can sign to put a Republican on the ballot, while for minor party and independent candidates anyone who is a registered voter regardless of affiliation may sign the petition. Also, Democrats and Republicans do challenge eachothers petition signatures (usually challenges come from within their own party).

    So, to get on the ballot as a minor party or independent candidate for governor in PA one has to get 19,000 and some odd valid signatures, although it is usually around 25,000 valid signatures. There are about 6 months to gather these signatures and the deadline is on August 1st. Anyone who is registered to vote can sign the petition. To get on the ballot as a candidate for governor in the Democrat or Republican primaries, one has to get 2,000 valid signatures from either registered Democrats or registered Republicans. There are 3 weeks allowed for these petitions and the petitioning is done in the winter (ie-in cold weather).

    Getting on the ballot in the Democrat or Republican primaries in PA with a full slate of delegates is a little more tricky. The presidential candidates need 2,000 valid signatures from either registered Democrats or Republicans, and each delegate needs to get 250 valid petition signatures from registered Democrats or Republicans, and note that there are 3 or 4 delegates plus 3 or 4 alternate delegates per congressional district, and PA has 19 congressional districts. So when you factor in all of the signatures for the delegates and alternate delegates, presidential primary access in PA is actually pretty difficult. Also, note that the presidential primary candidate who turns in the most signatures gets the top spot on the ballot and the order of each spot after that is based on the number of signatures that each candidate submitts.

  26. AroundtheblockAFT

    #29, these levels of signatures are hardly insurmountable for them. In one county alone in Phila. suburbs there are 400+ committeemen. They call a convention and pass the petitions up and down the aisles. I bet they get 99% valid signatures. The challenges are made against outliers who aren’t backed by the party machinery. Because of their small
    (actually tiny) size it is usually only third party candidates you’ll find petitioning on street corners, etc. The third parties won’t amount to anything until they can figure out how to grow in their local communities.

  27. paulie

    I bet they get 99% valid signatures.

    You might be surprised. I’ve gotten some politicians to sign before, and they made mistakes.

    The mayors of DC and Vegas put down the wrong address….durrrr….

  28. Andy

    “AroundtheblockAFT // Aug 20, 2010 at 7:42 am

    #29, these levels of signatures are hardly insurmountable for them. In one county alone in Phila. suburbs there are 400+ committeemen. They call a convention and pass the petitions up and down the aisles. I bet they get 99% valid signatures. The challenges are made against outliers who aren’t backed by the party machinery. Because of their small
    (actually tiny) size it is usually only third party candidates you’ll find petitioning on street corners, etc. The third parties won’t amount to anything until they can figure out how to grow in their local communities.”

    It is true that the well connected Democrats and Republicans (generally) have an easier time gathering their signatures, but the ones who are less well connected certainly have a more difficult time. This was especially true for Ron Paul when he and his slate of delegates ran in the Republican primaries in PA.

  29. Andy

    “You might be surprised. I’ve gotten some politicians to sign before, and they made mistakes.

    The mayors of DC and Vegas put down the wrong address….durrrr….”

    Those mayors may have put down the wrong address on purpose.

  30. Richard Schwarz

    Andy wrote: “Also, note that the presidential primary candidate who turns in the most signatures gets the top spot on the ballot and the order of each spot after that is based on the number of signatures that each candidate submitts.”

    Small point, but they actually hold a drawing to determine ballot position. The number of signatures turned in is irrelevant. We even picked the lucky number out of the hat which got Ron Paul the top position in 2008.

  31. Brian Miller

    In cases where D and R signatures have been challenged, the judges typically rule that signatures are indeed inadequate BUT “voters have a right to have a D and R to vote for.”

    So the rules are typically changed for those guys, over and over. Whereas third party and independent candidates are held to the most rigorous and technical enforcement of the rules.

    I think the best way to deal with the problem is for the major parties to run for the nominations of the weaker of the two parties (PA regions tend to be dominated by one party).

    Imagine a former Green Party candidate running for Philadelphia mayor as a Republican calling for higher taxes and more environmental regulations. Or a Libertarian running as a Democrat against Joe Pitts on a platform of reduced taxes and spending.

    Enough chaos in their respective parties and the majors will prefer a “gadfly” third party challenge to absolute chaos and “off-message campaigning” in their own party.

    In the mean time, Pennsylvanians should avoid voting. A lower vote total means a lower bar for third-party candidates in the next election.

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