Nader Pissed About Getting Kicked Off 2004 PA Ballot? He’s Not Alone
Earlier this week Ralph Nader, that guy you liked until Bush was installed as president, made public a letter he had previously sent to Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille in 2004. The letter suggests an undermining of democracy based on Nader’s unsuccessful attempt to get on the PA ballot, which include signature challenges, before the Bush and Kerry could get on with their extreme sadshow. We’re not exactly sure why the former independent candidate and public advocate waited until now (he says it’s a shot before Castille’s 2013 re-election), but since he did, it helps to know that 2004 wasn’t the end of independent candidates getting kicked off the ballot in Pennsylvania. Nader’s accusations are pretty fucking common.
Last summer, as the races for Pennsylvania governor and U.S. Senate dwindled in the heat, mainstream candidates – both Republican and Democrat – were making sure no one had the chance to take even a single vote “away from them,” too.
Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Marakay Rogers, lieutenant governor candidate Kat Valleley, and senatorial candidate Douglas Jamison were knocked from the ballot by the state Republican Party over invalid signatures in August. Then-candidate Tom Corbett, when asked about these candidates before they were given the boot claimed he’d have no role in getting them removed, but told reporters: “I assume the state party is doing its due diligence.”
Also removed by state party challenges were Mel Packer, running for senate on the Green Party ticket and John Krupa, running as an independent candidate for governor. All had their petitions challenged, and all dropped out claiming a loss.
Some candidates, like Rogers, vowed to run as a write-in candidate at the time. She had no impact on the final race.
This is a huge problem in Pennsylvania politics. Other-party candidates are faced with almost impossible hurdles as it pertains to getting on the ballot, and staying on it. In fact, back in 2006, Pennsylvania was called one of the worst places – in the world! – to have a free election, according to the Helsinki Accords. Part of that includes the fact that Republicans and Democrats need 2,000 signatures to get on a statewide ballot while independent and thirty-party candidates are required a fable-worthy 67,070.
In addition, Big Party lawyers often go out of their way to sue independent candidates, often with a small campaign war chest, over the cost to look up the challenges.
Back in 2006, Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli thought he had something going when he filed almost 100,000 signatures to get on the ballot for Senate, among the most in state history. Media reports showed him continually supported by Republicans affiliated with the Santorum campaign and challenged by Pennsylvania Democrat lawyers supporting then-candidate Bob Casey. The challengers, one of which was Daniel Anders, now a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge, hired the Pittsburgh lawfirm of Thorp, Reed and Armstrong to help them get Romanelli off the ballot.
Romanelli had previously told us by email he believes his challenge was “an elaborate scheme led by the PA House Democratic Caucus,” because “state aides were used in checking the ballots.” Similar to Bonusgate controversy involving Reed Smith LLP, who helped compile evidence of erroneous signatures against Ralph Nader, according to Nader himself.
Romanelli lost. And was then required to pay more than $80,000 in legal fees to the Pittsburgh lawfirm. That’s not the full bill, he says, just what the court who handed down the decision imposed.
“To date I have not paid a cent,” he says, “and I do not intend to at any time in the future. I did nothing wrong, crimes were committed against my right to speak and run for office, so I refuse to pay the attorney, co-conspirators for the pleasure of being a victim of state funded crime. The legal case against was complete nonsense to begin with, long before the crimes of Bonusgate were known. It is a horrible thing for any American to have to endure.”