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PA’s Supreme Court allows some party committee candidates to pass out nomination petitions

The Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Russ Walker / PA Post
The Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Russ Walker / PA Post

HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – State Supreme Court justices are allowing some political party committee candidates to pass around petitions that help pave the way for them to appear on the primary ballot.

According to an order clarifying an earlier decision on Pennsylvania’s Congressional map, people running for precinct committee or county party spots can now ask for nomination signatures until March 15.

Congressional candidates and those running for offices like governor have been able to pass around those petitions for about a week. That’s because Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court decided on the state’s new Congressional boundaries on Feb. 23.

The map outlines which party voters those candidates can ask to support them.
State lawmaker candidates don’t know which voters to talk to yet, because new House and Senate maps haven’t been finalized.

But party committee candidates, who are also running in the primary, don’t fall into either category – so they didn’t know if they could start passing around petitions.

“It seemed odd to wait on county committee [petitions]. There was the tiniest thread of a reason to wait,” Erie County Democratic committee woman Freda Tepfer wrote in a text.

Justices decided to lump party candidates in with those running under the Congressional map, which Tepfer said is good forward progress.

“Some people might feel cheated out of time to circulate, but you only need 10 signatures. I think that it’s really a big help to [the] county elections office to get this out of the way,” she said.

Pennsylvania Republican state party committee member Jezree Friend said the opposite is true for those running for spots like his. Those candidates will have to wait to hand out nomination petitions until after March 7, when the legal challenge period for state maps wraps up.

“As someone who is circulating petitions for statewide candidates, it is very annoying to have to go back in a couple weeks and ask many of the same people again for signatures for my petitions for state committee,” Friend said in an email.

“Would be nice to knock it out at once. [The] Supreme Court is going to have me getting signatures during March Madness,” he added.

U.S. Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito is mulling a challenge to Pennsylvania’s Congressional map, but some legal experts believe those boundaries are likely to remain in place.