State Rep. Tony Payton, whose nominating petitions were being challenged by a supporter of his primary opponent, abruptly withdrew from the race last week.
“I withdrew willingly. This process is costly,” he said.
Payton (D-179th dist.) was being challenged in the April 24 primary by James “Scoot” Clay.
The incumbent filed 1,854 signatures, well above the minimum of 300.
Some 1,714 of those signatures, though, were challenged by a 23rd Ward Democratic committeewoman named Doris Johnson.
Signatures by people who were not Democrats living in the district were easy to throw out during a two-day hearing in Commonwealth Court. If a name on the sheet didn’t exactly match the name on a voter-registration card, it was disqualified.
Payton was hoping for a liberal, rather than strict, interpretation of a voter’s intent.
For instance, volunteers collecting petitions filled in the date in case the voter forgot, “which is a mistake,” Payton acknowledged. Those petitions were tossed.
Payton will serve out the rest of his term. He will not mount a write-in campaign in the primary, nor will he seek to run as an independent or a member of another party.
“I accept that. It’s nobody’s fault but mine. I’m moving on,” he said.
What are his plans after leaving office at the end of the year?
“To be determined,” he said.
The district includes Oxford Circle, Northwood and Frankford.
Payton, 31, said he appreciated the opportunity to serve. He has focused on improvements to playgrounds, schools and Aria Hospital-Frankford.
Back in 2006, he was one of four Democrats to file seeking to replace veteran Rep. Bill Rieger.
The other three candidates were removed from the ballot, but Democrats supported a write-in campaign by Emilio Vazquez, who had the original endorsement.
Payton initially prevailed by 19 votes, but a Common Pleas Court judge handed Vazquez the victory by allowing 52 write-in votes for him that were mistakenly cast for committeeman.
In the end, Commonwealth Court overruled that decision, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.
This year, Clay, 32, had the backing of ward leaders Vazquez, Dan Savage and Bill Dolbow.
“I’m surprised that a sitting state rep couldn’t secure three-hundred signatures,” Savage said.
Clay, whose mother Frances was president of the Frankford Civic Association, gave up a job as a courtroom aide to make the run for office.
“It feels good, but I’ve still got to get out and do the work,” he said. “I plan to keep doing it until I get to Harrisburg. I’m here to serve the people of the 179th district. That’s the reason I’m running. I’m going to do the best I can.”
In another petition challenge, Democrat Numa St. Louis will stay on the 202nd Legislative District ballot after a court dismissed an objection from his primary opponent, 38-year incumbent Rep. Mark Cohen.
Dave Kralle, a Republican candidate in the 169th Legislative District, was endorsed last week by City Councilman Brian O’Neill (R-10th dist.).
The announcement came outside the Bustleton Avenue Municipal Building, where O’Neill has a district office.
On April 24, Kralle faces Democrat Ed Neilson in a special election and John McCann in a primary. The seat has been vacant since Republican Denny O’Brien joined City Council at the beginning of the year.
Kralle, 25, worked 10 years for O’Brien, starting as an intern while he was a student at Archbishop Ryan High School, then moving to his campaign staff and finally to his office while in college.
“He’s a great candidate,” said O’Neill, who lives in the 169th. “David has grown into a passionate speaker. He’s into all the issues and knows how people feel about them. He hits the ground running going into the state House.”
Patrick Murphy, a Democratic candidate for state attorney general, last week was endorsed by five labor unions.
Lining up behind Murphy were the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Harrisburg-based AFSCME Council 13, AFSCME District Council 47, Fayette County-based United Mine Workers of America District 2 and the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.
Meanwhile, Murphy began running a campaign television commercial in the Pittsburgh media market. The 30-second spot makes no mention of his two terms in Congress, though it shows him pictured with President Barack Obama.
The ad notes his dad’s 22 years as a police officer and describes the candidate as a husband, father, Army paratrooper and West Point law professor.
An announcer says, “As attorney general, he’ll enforce the law fairly to protect the rights of workers, our environment and protect a woman’s right to choose.”
Murphy also attended last week’s Lawncrest Community Association meeting. He faces former Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kane in the primary.
The Republican candidate is Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed.
The Loyal Opposition of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans, Temple University College Republicans and the Philadelphia Republican Leadership Council are sponsoring a forum with the five GOP candidates for U.S. Senate on Wednesday, April 4, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., in the Lincoln Room of the Union League, at 140 S. Broad St.
Dom Giordano, a morning host on WPHT (1210 AM), will moderate a discussion among David Christian, Sam Rohrer, Marc Scaringi, Tom Smith and Steve Welch.
Admission is free. Men must wear a suit, and women must wear professional clothing. There will be a cash bar.
The Republican nominee will face the winner of the Democratic primary between Sen. Bob Casey Jr. and Joseph Vodvarka. ••EndFragment