Two local incumbents likely to face non-legacy-party opponents come November

Pennsylvania State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski will need to mobilize to confront a challenger and Congressman Tom Marino will be facing a second challenger in order retain is his seat down in DC in their 2014 bids to remain in office. That is, if their opponents are able to remain on the ballot in a state notorious for its hurdles to “ballot access.”

Wilkes-Barre Libertarian Betsy Summers and Milford resident and political wunderkind independent congressional candidate Nick Troiano have both successfully surmounted numerous ballot access hurdles to submit their nomination signatures for office in the Pennsylvania House and US Congress, respectively.
With the Republican Party in Pennsylvania’s 121st District unable to field a candidate Betsy petitioning July 19, 2014against four-term incumbent Pashinski (a repeat of the party’s 2012 performance), Summers has led from the front after issuing numerous public rallying cries to ensure that no incumbent would run unopposed. She has frequently noted that some 115 of the Pennsylvania House’s 203 members were running without competition in 2014. Representative Pashinski will not be one of those pols this year.

Betsy completes candidate filing in HarrisburgSummers needed 300 valid nomination signatures to qualify as a candidate for the 121st District seat. She submitted nearly 500 signatures on Monday, July 28, and another 100 or so were submitted on the final submission day, August 1. So she’ll appear on the ballot next to Pashinski come November, right? Well, Summers won’t know for certain until August 9. That’s because the Pashinski campaign has until August 8 to challenge Summers’ signatures, that is, find faults in them which would render them invalid. And reduce their number below the 300-count threshold. But the process is a legal one and non-trivial, so Summers is confident she could survive such a challenge, were it to be mounted. [Update: No petition challenges were filed against either Summers or Troiano.]


Photo credit: Michael L. Mihalo Photography

All of those dynamics hold for Troiano, too. In his case, his campaign needed to submit some 3,500 valid signatures. Just over 7,000 were turned in, the result of a Herculean effort on the part of the Troiano team. Will the Marino or Brion camp (Scott Brion is the Democratic candidate in the Tenth District race) be able to invalidate 3,500 signatures? That depends, but, like Pashinski, they’ve got until August 8 to analyze Troiano’s nomination papers (the legal term for those documents), prepare their formal objections, and properly file all the legal paperwork with the state’s Bureau of Elections.

Troiano had this to say to the Independent Gazette: “Achieving this significant milestone demonstrates why, I think, our campaign will ultimately be successful on election day, because we’ve been able to put together a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, [and] independents who are willing to join together to get my name on the ballot because they’re sick of politics as usual.”

As an independent, Troiano is counting on discontent with the Rs and Ds, documented in poll after poll, to propel him to Washington. As his platform states in its first two paragraphs, “Partisan gridlock and special interest corruption in Washington are standing in the way of our country’s ability to address unsustainable trends with respect to our budget, our economy, and our environment. . . . I’m running for Congress because I refuse to accept the inevitable outcome of the status quo: a country in decline.”

These two races may indicate the strengths of the Republican and Democratic brands as much as those of the individual incumbents. Surely, a victory by either a Libertarian or an independent would reverberate across the Union.

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