Jay Paterno’s entry into statewide politics could be over before it gets started. At least, it will be if Harrisburg City Councilman and Lieutenant Governor candidate Brad Koplinski has anything to say about it. Koplinski hired elections lawyer Lawrence Otter to challenge Paterno’s elections petitions, which hover near the minimum threshold to appear on the ballot.
“It’s a sure thing [he’ll be removed],” Otter told PoliticsPA. “The petitions are terrible.”
Candidates must submit 1,000 signatures with at least 100 from five different counties to appear on the primary ballot. Paterno filed only 1,117 signatures (including one from Graham Spanier) — far less than any of his five challengers. Koplinski himself filed 6,016 signatures, and Mike Stack, another challenger, led the pack with 9,600 signatures.
Paterno issued the following statement after the challenge was announced.
“I am confident in the petition signatures I submitted. I oversaw the petition gathering effort. A member of my family, a volunteer or myself gathered each one of these signatures. The people of this Commonwealth are tired of politics as usual and we look forward to discussing the real issues that matter to working families here in Pennsylvania. Voters in the Commonwealth should be the ones to select the party’s nominee for Lt. Governor.”
While that’s a nice sentiment, it probably won’t mean much to any judge who hears his petition hearing. Most candidates file way more petitions than needed to show competency and avoid situations like this. Paterno was a latecomer to the race, which likely contributed to the low number.
In any case, a Paterno-less ballot would be a welcoming sign to his opponents. The former Penn State football coach came in first in the latest Harper poll.