Ohio Governor John Kasich faces the possibility of being removed from the primary ballot in his home state of Pennsylvania. In the days before the deadline, I heard rumors that his campaign may have fallen short of qualifying for the ballot. Those rumors appeared to be disproved when he was approved to appear on the ballot. However, there is now a legal challenge to the validity of hundreds of the signatures on his petitions.
Kasich’s campaign filed 2,184 signatures to appear on the ballot in the Keystone State. 2,000 signatures were required for the primary election to be held on April 26.
But Nathaniel Rome, a University of Pennsylvania student who supports Marco Rubio, claims that over 800 of the signatures are not valid and has filed a challenge.
Specifically, Rome claims that many of the signatures of Kasich’s electors do not match the signatures of their voter registration cards. Other electors, he says, are either not registered to vote, are not registered in the specified district or are not registered as Republicans. In several instances, the petition challenges illegible signatures or handwriting that appears to belong to third parties other than the stated elector.
As a result, Rome is asking the court to set aside Kasich’s nominating petition and remove him from the state’s April 26 primary ballot.
Rome would not have filed the challenge if he were not confident that at least 185 signatures were invalid or ineligible, Bravacos said.
There is a hearing scheduled for March 9th, where we will find out whether this is frivolous or legitimate.
The Kasich campaign is no stranger to ballot challenges. In 2014, Kasich and Ohio Republican Party associates spent half a million dollars to have Libertarian candidate Charlie Earl removed from the May primary ballot. Before Kasich’s Democratic opponent, Ed Fitzgerald, had a campaign meltdown, it was feared that Earl would siphon away voters from Kasich. The circulators for Earl’s petitions failed to disclose that they were being paid, and the petitions were thrown out, removing Earl from appearing on the ballot.
If indeed Kasich is found to have not qualified for the primary ballot, it would be an embarrassing episode to the campaign that has frequently boasted about its ground game, especially in the state right next to Ohio where the governor grew up.
According to Real Clear Politics, Pennsylvania is a winner-take-all state and a treasure trove of all 71 ballots are up for grabs. Assuming he is still on the ballot, Kasich has a real shot of winning the primary there. A recent poll shows him trailing Donald Trump by 7 points and Marco Rubio by 1 point.