Rick Santorum Debates Invisible Man

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Early this morning, a Pennsylvania judge kicked Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli off the ballot in the state's Senate race. Romanelli had almost made the ballot thanks to a cash infusion by Sen. Rick Santorum (R), who wanted him in to scrape votes off Democrat Bob Casey. Too many of Romanelli's signatures were faked, so he's no longer in the race. But before the decision came down, Santorum had agreed to a series of debates with Romanelli. The first one happened two hours ago. This might be the first case of a candidate debating another candidate who isn't technically running against him.

The guys at Hammer of Truth have argued for the rights of Pennsylvania's third party candidates; I think that the state's Libertarians, especially Russ Diamond, have some good reasons to compete in PA politics. But Santorum's great debate is an example of the pitfalls major parties get into when trying to use third parties as fulcrums for their own power.

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  1. Thanks for the link, David.

    There is still one more chance for Romanelli to get on the ballot. The Supreme Court of Pa is hearing a case to lower the ballot requirement from 67K (based on 2% of 2004’s highest statewide vote getter) to 16K (based on 2005’s highest statewide vote getter).

    The Pa Supremes are debating the meaning of “statewide election.”

  2. Alex, didn’t Ralph Nader fail to make the ballot in 2004 after losing on that same argument? Has the makeup of the court changed since then?

  3. I’d like to see ballot access laws greatly liberalized. Our democracy would be better, if only because the two parties would be forced to think in terms more useful than diamentrical opposition.

    But as long as they are not, shennanigans like this shouldn’t be tolerated.

    Maybe you think aluminum bats should be allowed in the majors. Whatever the merits of that argument, allowing one player to use an aluminum bat while everyone else uses Louisville Sluggers is unfair to the opposition, and bad for the game.

  4. Have to agree with Joe. The Green’s petitions were shit, which is what happens when you have to hire street people to get signatures. A good petitioner manager can overcome the problems when only, say, 40,000 gross signatures are needed but
    not when 90 or 100K are needed. Maybe it’s time for LPers, Greens, etc. to enter the major party primaries and raise some hell?

  5. What we need is a modern-day Whig party; a party created out of very disparate interests in the name of curbing the power of a a major party (or two major parties in this instance).

    Oh, and the parties themselves should go back to printing the ballots. 🙂

  6. PL We do have a modern day Whig party. They’re called “Republicans”

  7. I think it would be a blast to see Sen. Rick debate an invisible man. I nominate Vinnie Shinblind.

    Kevin

  8. PL We do have a modern day Whig party. They’re called “Republicans”

    Wha….? I thought the modern day Whig party was the Democrats.

  9. (1) What do you mean “technically not a candidate”? Has the man said he is discouraging write-in votes?

    (2) Signature-gathering is an economically wasteful exercise, benefiting no one, except to the extent it is a prerequisite for ballot access. Ballot access should not be conditioned upon the performance of wasteful exercises. This is true whether the number of signatures required is 100 or 100,000.

    Would it not make more sense to have — as an elective alternative to signature-gathering — ballot access fees in amounts based on either the number of votes cast for that office in the previous election, or the salary the position pays?

    If I am ever a candidate for an office, given the choice of mounting an expensive signature-gathering campaign (which could fail) or just forking a check (in the same amount) over to a bureaucrat, I’d pick the latter. It is much easier to know whether my own check is going to bounce than to know that I have submitted (a) the requisite number (b) of valid signatures (c)of actual voters (d) to the right office(s) (e) by the legal deadline.

  10. Tarran,
    Thank you for the best comedy writing I’ve seen this month.

  11. David, I don’t think so.

    Romanelli’s lawyer said there was no precident for “lowering the signature bar” in Pennsylvania’s courts. That would indicate that no, Nader didn’t try that.

    I believe Nader’s strategy was to just go after the actual signatures. Proving them as valid, which was one of Romanelli’s strategies.

  12. AlexC is right. Nader never made this partiucluar argument (and in fairness to his legal team, I have no idea whether there was an election the year before his run that would have allowed him to make it or not). Based on the clear language of the statute, it seems like the Greens have a strong case. The PA Dept of State appears to have decided on their own that statewide judicial retention elections don’t count for the purposes of determining the minimum amount of sigs, and this has been their longstanding interpretation, but I don’t see any basis in the statute that would allow such a decision.

  13. As Chair of the Green Party of PA, I’d like to correct one of David’s misrepresentations. Romanelli’s signatures were not fake. After six weeks of review, it’s clear that he gathered over 67,000 authentic signatures from registered PA voters. Even Democrats would admit that.

    What this has always been about was whether the petition drive could withstand the sort of trivial technicalities the Democrats would raise to invalidate authentic signatures. While tens of thousands of Democratic challenges turned out to be bogus, they did succeed in invalidating enough. For example, if a voter printed their name in the first column of the petition and signed in the second, instead of vice versa, the signature was ruled invalid. Or if the database included a registration at the correct address but was missing a scanned signature for comparison, the signature was automatically invalid. In fact, the number challenged as forgeries was miniscule.

    Not exactly “fake” in my book. Get real, David.

  14. Paul Teese,
    The dems may be splitting hairs on the exact way to sign a petition, but it is straight from the Rep. playbook in the 2000 Florida election. Many invalidated ballots were technical mistakes (for example, people who both poked the chad for Gore and wrote in for Gore on the same ballot were not counted as votes for Gore). Thus, it is sort of ironic that the Reps funded the signature drive for the Greens, only to be technically shut down by their own previous strategy. Sorry that your party is being used like that, but it is interesting, nontheless.

  15. haha, nice try. many were fake.

  16. Speaking of fakes, I strongly agree with FatDrunkAndStupid, who strongly agrees with AlexC, who agrees with the Greens. Yup, ain’t no pretenses about that. Honestly, I was going to vote for Casey, but this Romanelli fellow makes some really good points. Heck, if I were 20% of Democrats in PA that’s what I’d be doing. No doubt!

  17. With regard to voting for government spending, the Democrat is likely to be a more expensive choice than Santorum will be:

    http://tinyurl.com/ln2yw

  18. greens are pussies. thats why they cry so much.

  19. Doesn’t the fact that Rick Scumtorum bought this guy to help him cheat in the election bother any of you? I am not too keen on Casey, but the Repiglicans have got to go

  20. Jes*s Ch*ist, does ANYTHING go now in politics? (because the politicians figure Joe six pack doesn’t know squat so they just do whatever, whenever, legal or not, sensible or not, just something, anything, to get their stupid name(s) and pretty faces out there in the public eye? There’s one big difference, no, two, between today’s politics and the politics of yesteryear;
    1. You covered your tracks, ignorance is bliss, afterall
    2. You were slick, polished, and if you fumbled, esposed yourself, got busted, etc, you were generally run out of town on a rail, as that was the only condition; (not to be clean, legal and honest), but NOT TO GET CAUGHT, or get others involved/busted, or squeal on anyone. Hell, now anything goes, and these friggin’ carpetbaggers just keep on keepin’ on like nothing happened. Where the hell have people’s values gone(?) and I don’t mean the politicians…

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