A federal judge Wednesday refused to address a failed Democratic candidate’s plea to be placed on Pennsylvania’s ballot as an independent candidate for U.S. president.
His court has no legal grounds to jump into Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente’s dispute with Pennsylvania’s Department of State, U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III concluded. Jones found that the state’s Commonwealth Court is the proper forum for the fight.
Jones’ decision to abstain came after de la Roque, a 61-year-old Mexican-American real estate developer from San Diego, California, sued Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro A. Cortez over the refusal to add him to the November general election ballot.
According to the federal judge’s ruling, de la Fuente’s hope for ballot placement is blocked by what is commonly known as the “sore loser” provision of the state election code. That provision bars candidates who failed to secure a major party’s nomination from getting another shot at election by securing ballot placement as independents.
Sore loser provisions are designed to avoid “ballot clutter,” Jones noted. de la Fuente claimed in his federal court suit that Pennsylvania’s sore loser provision violates his constitutional rights. He filed suit after state officials rejected his nomination papers to run as an independent, even though he secured 5,000 valid signatures of registered Pennsylvania voters.
State officials concluded that de la Fuente was ineligible to run as an independent because he is a registered member of the Florida Democratic Party and had failed to secure the presidential nomination during Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary this past spring. He finished last out of three candidates in that race, garnering 14,303 votes to 918,689 for Hillary Clinton and 719,955 for Bernie Sanders.
de la Fuente hasn’t had much luck politically this year. He complained bitterly about being excluded from the Democratic presidential debates.
Author: Matt Miller | [email protected]pennlive.com
Date: September 14, 2016 at 2:39 PM