Jennifer D. Wade Journal

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Blog posts March 2014

And... He's Out

Jay Paterno left before he got kicked out.

This afternoon, the last man to jump into the race to be Pennsylvania's Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor jumped out. Paterno made the move just three days before Commonwealth Court was set to hear a challenge to the signatures on his nominating petitions.

As I wrote yesterday, Paterno's petitions contained only 117 more signatures than the 1,000 signature minimum required by law. He didn't have a lot of wiggle room and he knew it.

The Associated Press reported on Paterno's withdrawal from the race in an article that was picked up around the state and around the country. The article cites a statement put out by the Paterno campaign (of course, that statement was not sent to the TV station where I work) in which he basically says that he expected the petition challenge to lead to a lengthy legal battle, so he decided to put Pennsylvania and the party first and drop out now.

To me, that sounds like he didn't think his signatures would hold up, so better to get out while the gettin's good.

The whole statement is posted on his Facebook page:

"This afternoon I am announcing my intent to withdraw from the Lt. Governor's race. Over the past twenty-four hours in talking with attorneys it has become clear that the ballot challenge could be a long process with potential decisions and appeals carrying beyond Monday's hearing.

"With less than two months remaining before the primary I do not want an ongoing legal back and forth to be a distraction in this race. The outcome of this election is too important for the future of the working families and all the people of this Commonwealth.

"While I have always believed that you fight for what is right, there are times in life when personal ambitions should give way for the good of the whole. To that end I am stepping away. It is my hope that a focus on a thorough airing of the issues allows the best Democratic candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor to lead us into November.

"I thank everyone who has supported our campaign. I know we entered this race late and I alone bear responsibility for that and for any shortcomings in our efforts.

"As I have stated at every campaign stop I would be honored to be the nominee, but if I fell short of that goal, I would work hard to help the Governor and Lt. Governor nominees win the election in November. That has not changed. I will continue to advocate for the issues of Education, Employment and Equality that we all feel passionately about in any way I can contribute." ---Jay

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Jack and Jay: Part II

There's a saying that goes "better late than never."

In the case of Jack Wagner - and maybe Jay Paterno - the more appropriate saying may be "better never than late."

It's been just over a month since I posted about the late entrance of Jack Wagner into the race to be Pennsylvania's Democratic nominee for governor. The same day Wagner threw his hat in the ring, political novice Jay Paterno announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket.

Fast forward to March 26, and Jack is out of the race. He had enough signatures to get on the ballot, but he apparently didn't have enough money to make it a race worth running. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a good analysis here of the campaign that never was.

Ultimately, it seems Wagner got into the race too late to get any serious financial backing. And, his roots in western PA did not gain him any favor with folks in that part of the state. Many of them decided to throw their support behind Tom Wolf, who's currently leading the pack in the polls.

Wagner says he has not ruled out a run for office in the future, but judging by some of the comments on the article, there are some folks who wish this Jack would just hit the road and not come back.

As for Jay, he's still on the ballot for lieutenant governor, but there's a chance he may not stay there. On March 31, Commonwealth Court is set to hear a challenge to the signatures on his nominating petition. The challenge is being brought by Brad Koplinski, who was the supposed favorite on the Democratic side until Paterno and his name got into the race.

If what Koplinski says in his news release is accurate, Paterno managed to get slightly more than 1,100 signatures on his nominating petition. The minimum number is 1,000, and you're supposed to have 100 signatures from five different counties. According to Koplinski, all of Paterno's signatures come from five counties, but the question is whether all of those signatures are valid. Paterno and his people don't seem to have much of a cushion in case Koplinski's suspicions prove correct. And, if that's all the signatures the Paterno campaign could come up with, it makes you wonder about the organization he's put together and how serious his campaign really is.

I'll just add a couple other notes about Jay Paterno's campaign and how I see it. In the post last month, I wrote about the odd way his candidacy was announced - a campaign website that was supposed to be secret until late afternoon somehow became public around mid-morning. Then, as mysteriously as that website appeared, it disappeared and was gone for hours. Jay finally took to Twitter to confirm his candidacy, and the website reappeared a couple hours after that.

Since then, JayPa has been running what seems to be a rather low-key campaign, especially when you consider that he's running for statewide office. To the best of my knowledge, my news organization has not received any press releases from his campaign about anything - no "I'm running" announcement, no "here's what I think of this" statements, no attacks on other candidates, no "here's where I'll be on this date," no nothing. I do know that he visited the Scranton area a few weeks ago, but I only know that because one of our news crews happened to see him while they were covering a different story. We tracked him down again later in the day to talk to him - about a topic unrelated to his campaign.

The whole thing is just weird. Here's a guy with no political experience running for a statewide office. The one thing he has going for him is his name, yet he seems to be doing everything he can to keep his name from getting out there. It appears he put minimal effort into getting signatures for his nominating petition. But, should those signatures survive a challenge and he remains on the ballot, I have no idea where he stands on any of the issues. He doesn't seem to be doing much to convince people that, if elected lt. governor, he's prepared to take over as governor if needed.

Quite honestly, the whole thing feels like Paterno is trying to make connections with politicians around the state, feel them out, see where he stands. Maybe he's just trying to cover all his bases by trying to get his well-known name on the ballot with a little effort as possible.

Come March 31 (or soon after), we'll find out if that game plan succeeds.

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