The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 8, 2012

Libertarians predict victory in ballot fight

HARRISBURG — An attorney for the Libertarian Party predicted Monday that its candidates will remain on the Pennsylvania ballot, overcoming a protracted challenge backed by the Republican Party.

The attorney, Paul Rossi, said there is “zero chance” that the Libertarians will come up shy of the 20,601 voters’ signatures they need to keep presidential nominee Gary Johnson and the party’s other statewide candidates listed on the ballot in the Nov. 6 election.

“I’m feeling fantastic,” Rossi said in a telephone interview as the review of tens of thousands of petition signatures entered its eighth week, including a rare weekend session on Saturday.

The challengers are seeking to disqualify about 100 signatures they had previously stipulated as acceptable in a motion that Commonwealth Court Senior Judge James Gardner Colins is expected to consider at a Philadelphia hearing this afternoon.

Rossi said approval of the motion is unlikely and speculated that, even if it is approved, the Libertarians could easily pick up more than enough additional signatures through reviews of the more than 1,000 that were still contested.

Even the judge, in an email obtained by The Associated Press, implied that the Libertarians appeared likely to prevail.

“Obviously, you both can see that magic number of 20,601 has been reached,” Colins wrote, thanking attorneys for their Saturday efforts. “However, the count will continue on Tuesday morning as there is still outstanding the motion to withdraw stipulations.”

The challengers were not conceding Monday.

“The numbers are what they are, but we will be in court tomorrow,” said Larry Otter, an attorney for the challengers.

Johnson, a former two-term Republican New Mexico governor, has campaigned in Pennsylvania three times this year.

Other Libertarian candidates running for statewide offices include Rayburn Smith, a retired postal worker running for U.S. Senate; Marakay Rogers, a York lawyer running for attorney general; and Wilkes-Barre businesswoman Betsy Summers, who is running for auditor general.

In August, the Constitution Party abandoned its bid to put its presidential ticket on Pennsylvania’s ballot in the face of a challenge from the state Republican Party.

Analysts have speculated that the GOP took on the Libertarian and Constitution parties out of concern that conservatives dissatisfied with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney would defect to one of those parties.

The Green Party succeeded in getting its national and statewide candidates on the Pennsylvania ballot without any challenges to its petitions.

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