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Valley News Dispatch

Lawsuit seeking to remove Pennsylvania Senate candidate from ballot tossed

Brian C. Rittmeyer
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Jeremy Shaffer (left); Lindsey Williams (right)

A Commonwealth Court judge on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit that sought to have Democratic state Senate candidate Lindsey Williams removed from the November ballot because, it claimed, she hasn’t lived in the state long enough.

Williams, 35, of West View is running against Republican Jeremy Shaffer, 41, of Ross in the 38th state Senate District, which includes a large portion of the Alle-Kiski Valley, a small section of Pittsburgh and suburban communities in Allegheny County’s North Hills.

“This claim had no legal basis whatsoever, and was filed only to smear Lindsey Williams in the middle of a campaign,” said Chuck Pascal, an attorney for Williams. “The court understood that, and dismissed this frivolous lawsuit.”

Two residents of the district, James Barr and Nathaniel Locklin, sought to have Williams removed from the ballot because, they claimed, she would not have lived in the district for at least four years as of the Nov. 6 general election, which the state’s Constitution requires for state Senate candidates.

They further claimed she committed fraud by submitting a candidate’s affidavit that indicated she was eligible to serve as a Pennsylvania state senator when she did not meet the residency requirement.

Their complaint said Williams was a Maryland resident and was registered to vote in that state as of Nov. 6, 2014, and was not registered to vote in Pennsylvania until Dec. 25, 2014.

Ronald Hicks Jr., an attorney representing Barr and Locklin, could not be reached.

“I am pleased that the Court dismissed this meritless case, as I expected it would all along,” Williams said in a emailed statement Wednesday evening.

Attorneys for Williams argued that their objection came too late. It should have been made by March 13, within seven days of her filing nominating petitions for the primary.

Because Barr and Locklin aren’t Democrats, they would not have had standing to bring the objection at that time. Only members of a candidate’s party are able to object to a candidate’s nomination petitions.

In his order finding the objection untimely, Judge Michael Wojcik said “there is absolutely no allegation or proof with respect to the candidate’s fraud in the concealment of any of the purportedly disqualifying information upon which objectors rely.”

“In the absence of any such allegation or proof, the seven-day limitation (spelled out in the state’s election code) applies, and the (objection to her candidacy) is untimely,” Wojcik wrote.

Shaffer, a Ross commissioner, knocked off incumbent state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler, by 17 percentage points in the May primary. Williams defeated Stephanie Walsh of Highland Park by 16 percentage points.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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