Judge upholds Democratic nomination for Pittsburgh city council

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An Allegheny County Common Pleas judge has upheld a disputed Democratic committee nomination in a special election for a Pittsburgh City Council seat.

Deb Gross of Highland Park won the committee's nomination 47-43 over Anthony Ceoffe Jr. in a vote held July 21. Mr. Ceoffe challenged the results, arguing four votes were illegitimate. After an hour-long hearing Monday, Judge Joseph James agreed to throw out two of the votes but keep two others, which allowed Ms. Gross to hold onto the party's nod.

After Councilman Patrick Dowd resigned his District 7 seat July 10, it was up to members of the Democratic committee within the East End district to officially name a candidate.

The judge agreed with Mr. Ceoffe's attorney, Daniel Joyce, that the party should not have allowed a state committeeman or Ms. Gross -- a committeewoman who formerly lived in Bloomfield -- to cast votes in the contest. But he did not agree with the challenger that two others recently appointed to the committee by Democratic Chairwoman Nancy Mills should not have voted.

Committee bylaws barring late appointments before party votes only apply to endorsements, the judge ruled, not to nomination votes in special elections.

Mr. Ceoffe has changed his registration to independent to make a run in the Nov. 5 election. The judge also said he had "serious doubt" Mr. Ceoffe had legal standing to challenge the committee vote, since he was no longer a Democrat.

Others expected to be on the Nov. 5 ballot include Libertarian Party candidate David Powell of Morningside and independents Tom Fallon of Morningside and James Wudarczyk of Lawrenceville.

Mr. Ceoffe has a separate but related challenge seeking to bar the Allegheny County elections division from placing Ms. Gross's name on the ballot, which the judge is set to hear Aug. 29.

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Tim McNulty: tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581. Follow the Early Returns blog at earlyreturns.sites.post-gazette.com or on Twitter at @EarlyReturns.


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