A rival for Jay Paterno’s bid to capture the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor is challenging more than 200 signatures on the petitions the former Penn State football coach filed.
Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinksi filed paperwork Monday in the Commonwealth Court in the capital to have the signatures thrown out and Paterno’s name removed from the Democratic ballot.
Koplinksi contends that 208 of the signatures are invalid for various reasons.
Paterno, a surprise candidate for the state’s No. 2 elected office and a former assistant coach under father Joe Paterno, filed the paperwork last week on the day signatures were due. If he withstands the challenge, he will be one of six candidates vying for the Democratic nod.
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Koplinksi argues that Paterno didn’t secure more than 100 signatures from five counties, which is one of the requirements. Koplinksi said there are problems with signatures from Mifflin, Chester and Philadelphia counties.
Further, Koplinski says, if those signatures are invalidated, Paterno will not have at the minimum 1,000 signatures he needs to have his name on the ballot in May.
Koplinski said some of the signatures are from Republican or independent voters, who cannot sign a Democrat’s petition. Koplinski said other signatures were filled out with addresses different from the voter registration records, and some signatures are duplicates from petitions of other Democratic challengers.
Paterno secured signatures from counties including Allegheny, Beaver, Blair, Centre, Clearfield and Luzerne. In a statement Friday, when Koplinksi announced he would challenge some of the signatures, Paterno said he had confidence in the names he gathered.
“I oversaw the petition-gathering effort,” he said. “A member of my family, a volunteer or myself gathered each one of these signatures.”
In addition to Paterno and Koplinski, the other candidates in the Democratic primary are Mark Critz, of Johnstown; Brandon Neuman, of North Strabane Township; Mark Smith, of Athens; and Mike Stack, of Philadelphia.
The current lieutenant governor, Republican Jim Cawley, will run unopposed in the primary. The job pays $157,765.