A rival Democratic Party candidate for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor said Friday that he plans to challenge whether Jay Paterno, the son of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, met the requirements to get on this year’s primary election ballot.
Brad Koplinski, a Harrisburg city councilman, said he has retained a lawyer to challenge Paterno’s nominating petitions.
“The commonwealth sets out rules to establish fairness and justice in the process,” Koplinski said.
Paterno, a first-time candidate who announced his campaign three weeks ago, said in a statement Friday that he is confident in the petition signatures he submitted and that he oversaw the effort.
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“Voters in the commonwealth should be the ones to select the party’s nominee for Lt. Governor,” Paterno wrote.
Major party candidates for lieutenant governor must submit the signatures of 1,000 registered party voters, including 100 from each of five different counties.
Tuesday was the deadline for submitting the signatures for the May 20 primary election.
Six Democratic candidates submitted nominating petitions on time to run for lieutenant governor, according to the Department of State. But none has Paterno’s name recognition or the potential reach that Paterno might into the huge Penn State fan and alumni base.
Koplinski’s lawyer — Larry Otter, of Bucks County — said Paterno’s petitions will not meet the requirements and that he plans to challenge them Monday in state Commonwealth Court. Paterno might have 1,000 valid signatures of registered Democratic Party voters, but he is unlikely to meet the threshold to gather 100 signatures from each of five counties, Otter said.
“I’ve reviewed them and in one word, they’re terrible,” Otter said.
Paterno was an assistant coach under his father through 2011, has been working on a book and runs a nonprofit aimed at eradicating malaria in Africa. He has been active in Democratic Party politics, campaigning for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Paterno has touted himself as someone who can bring new ideas to the state Capitol because he comes from outside the world of politics.
Koplinski, a former Justice Department lawyer and Democratic Party campaign consultant, won the most votes of any candidate for lieutenant governor at the Democratic State Committee meeting last month but not the two-thirds majority needed for the party’s endorsement.