Government
9:30 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Altmire to Stay on Ballot

A state judge says U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire can remain on the primary ballot in a race against a fellow Democratic congressman in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini on Monday denied the challenge by U.S. Rep. Mark Critz.

The Critz campaign had succeeded in invalidating hundreds of Altmire's petition signatures. But Pellegrini declined to nullify approximately 200 signatures collected by a woman who rented an apartment outside the redrawn district. Pellegrini ruled that her parents' home inside the district should still be considered her permanent home.

The men are seeking their party's nomination in a newly redrawn district created by Republicans who control Harrisburg and forces the men into a primary contest.

The Altmire campaign reacted with a written statement that reads in part, "[T]he Commonwealth Court confirmed what we knew all along — that my campaign turned in more than the required 1000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. We knew this to be true on the day we submitted the signatures and we knew this to be true the day Mark Critz filed his futile and cowardly challenge."

The statement went on to read, "In filing this unsuccessful challenge, Mark Critz has lowered himself to tactics usually reserved for elections to high school prom king, rather than the United States Congress. Simply put, his actions are beneath the dignity of the office he seeks and an insult to the voters he hopes to represent."

U.S. House candidates must submit the signatures of 1,000 registered party voters to get on the primary ballot. Altmire's campaign submitted just more that 1,600 signatures.

In a written statement from the Critz campaign the congressman said, ""We disagree with the judge's decision and are currently exploring our legal options."

The Critz camp can appeal the ruling to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.