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