Conservative challenger to Corbett remains on ballot after legal challenge

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

Bob Guzzardi, the conservative Republican activist who is challenging incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett in next month’s primary election, on Tuesday won the right to remain on the ballot.

VICTORY….FOR NOW: Bob Guzzardi, a Republican activist from Montgomery County, survived a legal challenge and will remain on Pennsylvania’s primary election ballot. But a second challenge might soon follow.

Four Republican voters challenged the legitimacy of signatures on Guzzardi’s nominating petitions in a legal effort backed by the state GOP. They also challenged his spot on the ballot because Guzzardi’s mandatory ethics disclosure form was filed late and contained inaccurate information, which the candidate later amended.

But Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt ordered Wednesday that Guzzardi remain on the ballot.

Leavitt said the state election code should be interpreted in a broad way “so as not to deprive an individual of the right to run for office or the voters of their right to elect a candidate of their choice.”

A candidate must have 2,000 signatures — including at least 100 signatures from Republican voters in 10 different counties — to appear on the statewide ballot. Guzzardi originally filed 3,102 signatures with the state Department of State.

Though some signatures were ruled inadmissible, Guzzardi was left with enough signatures from enough counties to qualify for the ballot. Other issues raised by the challengers were also dismissed.

“Today’s ruling by Judge Leavitt is a victory for the democratic process and Republican primary voters,” said Gretchen Coles Sterns, an attorney representing Guzzardi’s campaign.

Sterns said Pennsylvania voters “want and deserve” to hear Guzzardi’s message.

That message is one of dissatisfaction with the Republican Party establishment in Harrisburg, and with Corbett in particular. Though he has little chance of winning, Guzzardi has made no secret of his intentions to be a nuisance to Corbett’s campaign at a time when it is trying to gain steam against sagging poll numbers and unite Republican voters behind the incumbent.

But the effort to boot Guzzardi from the ballot isn’t over.

Lawrence Tabas, general counsel for the state GOP, told Karen Langley of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the state party will act “extremely promptly” to appeal Tuesday’s ruling to the state Supreme Court.

The primary election is scheduled for May 20.

Boehm can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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