GOP challenger to Corbett can be on ballot

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HARRISBURG -- A judge has rejected an effort, backed by the state Republican Party, to remove a GOP challenger to Gov. Tom Corbett from the primary ballot.

Lawrence Tabas, general counsel for the state GOP, said the opponents of the candidacy of Montgomery County businessman Bob Guzzardi will appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The primary election is May 20.

"It will be done extremely promptly," Mr. Tabas said.

Mr. Guzzardi in a recent interview described his candidacy as a chance for proponents of limited government to register dissatisfaction with the Republican establishment. He plans to spend little money -- perhaps $10,000 -- on his campaign.

"This is the taxpayer versus big government, that's what this is about, and Tom Corbett and state committee and the Republican General Assembly are big-government Republicans," he said earlier this month.

Petitioners represented by Mr. Tabas had challenged a number of signatures on Mr. Guzzardi's nominating petitions and argued he was wrong to describe himself as a "semi-retired businessman and lawyer," since his attorney license is inactive.

They also challenged his filing of a statement of financial interests.

But in an order Tuesday Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt of Commonwealth Court denied the request to strike Mr. Guzzardi's name from the ballot.

In a statement, Mr. Guzzardi's attorney, Gretchen Coles Sterns, called the ruling is "a victory for the democratic process and Republican primary voters." Mr. Guzzardi was unavailable to comment because of his observation of Passover, she said.

Megan Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the state Republican Party, said the ruling was "certainly disappointing."

Christopher Borick, a professor of political science and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, said that while Mr. Guzzardi has little campaign money and is not known by the state's voters, his appearance on the ballot would give dissatisfied Republicans an opportunity to protest the governor.

"It's clear by the state party's actions that they were concerned that Bob Guzzardi represents a headache for Gov. Corbett," Mr. Borick said. "They don't want to give any opportunity within the Republican primary for the governor to be embarrassed, and with anybody on the ballot other than the governor there is that opportunity for embarrassment."

Karen Langley:, 1-717-787-2141 or on Twitter @karen_langley. First Published April 15, 2014 3:25 PM

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