Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson's running mate Jim Gray may not have been in last night's vice presidential debate, but Johnson does have something to celebrate: He's officially on the ballot in Pennsylvania.
A nine week legal battle between Republicans and Libertarians over ballot access in the Keystone State has finally ended and Johnson's forces have emerged victorious. Johnson's ballot status had been in limbo for nearly three months before Commonwealth Court Senior Judge James G. Colins ruled on Wednesday that the Pennsylvania Libertarian Party filed more than the required valid signatures needed to get the entire slate of statewide Libertarian candidates on the ballot in the general election.
The LP's victory in Pennsylvania assures that Johnson and his running mate Jim Gray will be on the ballot in 48 states plus Washington, DC and Guam. Johnson's campaign has exceeded the ballot access of the 2008 Libertarian ticket and matched that of the 2004 ticket.
State parties, whose leaders tend know the rules and regulations better than the national leadership, do most of the heavy lifting on ballot access. High-ranking Libertarians say that their regular success at getting on the ballot is one of the things that separates them from other third parties in the United States.
In an emailed statement from the Pennsylvania LP, Johnson expressed frustration over the long battle but said he was pleased with the result.
"It is a travesty of the democratic process that Libertarians were required to endure such a drawn-out, expensive and unnecessary attack on their right to be on the ballot," Johnson wrote. "Voters in every state deserve real choices in this election, and it is clear that the Republican Party, not only in Pennsylvania, but in key states across the country, will go to any lengths to keep liberty, nonintervention and smaller government off the ballot."
State party chair Dr. Tom Stevens was a bit harsher in calling out Republicans.
"The rotten Republicans in their 800-dollar suits used every trick in their playbook to try to short-circuit the democratic process and defeat us. In the end, we beat them outright without even needing to wait for a favorable Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling on two outstanding legal issues," Stevens wrote in an emailed statement to Reason.