We're one step closer to learning whether the GOP-sponsored effort to secure the Green Party a spot on the Pennyslvania ballot will succeed. Today, a judge denied a Green Party effort to have the matter quickly resolved in its favor and punted the mess to the state supreme court.
It's just the latest step in ongoing battle between the Dems and Romanelli.Funded by conservatives
, Romanelli mounted a large-scale signature drive that netted nearly 100,000 signatures. He needed at least 67,000 to qualify, based on a Pennsylvania state law that requires candidates to gather 2 percent of the ballots cast for the largest vote-getter in the last statewide election race.
The Democrats have challenged Romanelli's signatures, alleging that nearly 70,000 of them are invalid.
But Romanelli's lawyer has tried to undercut the Dem's challenge by arguing that the law had been improperly applied by the state. The requirement of 67,000 signatures was based on Democrat Bob Casey's run in 2004 for state treasurer; but Romanelli's lawyer Lawrence Otter argued that the last statewide election was actually a 2005 judicial race.
If Romanelli's motion were to prevail, he'd only need 15,949
valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. Today, a state judge ruled against the motion, but indicated that the case should ultimately be decided by the state supreme court due to its unique nature. Otter told me that he planned to file the appeal Monday.
In the meantime, teams of Dem volunteers are working alongside Green and Republican volunteers to review tens of thousands of signatures for their validity, an effort that's likely to take at least three more weeks. Of the 16,569 signatures reviewed so far, nearly 60% of them have been ruled invalid.
A recent nonpartisan poll by Keystone shows Democrat Bob Casey leading Rick Santorum by five, 44 - 39, with Romanelli getting four percent.
This isn't the first time that a Green bid has ended up in the Pennsylvania courts.*
Romanelli's court fight follows on the heels of a decision Wednesday by the Pennsylvania supreme court that Ralph Nader and his running mate must pay $80,000 in expenses resulting from a lawsuit by Pennsylvania voters in 2004 that sought to block Nader from the ballot. The suit was ultimately successful, finding "wide-ranging improprieties among the signatures for Nader and Camejo, disqualifying nearly two-thirds of the 51,000 they submitted and barring them from being listed as independent candidates."
*Late Update/Correction: As TPMm Reader JS points out, Nader actually ran as an independent in 2004, not as a Green.