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Candidate's named pulled from primary ballot

March 29, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Ronald Eberly's name is not to appear on May 16 Republican primary ballots as a 90th District candidate for the state House of Representatives, a senior Commonwealth Court judge ruled Tuesday.

Without Eberly, the field narrows to Todd Rock of Mont Alto, Pa., and incumbent Patrick E. Fleagle.

Eberly, who did not return calls made to his house and cell phone Tuesday, would have to appeal the decision very quickly, Judge Jim Flaherty said at a March 21 hearing.

John E. Pace Sr. of Chambersburg, Pa., filed a challenge to Eberly's nominating petition, and during the hearing, Judge Jim Flaherty discarded 27 signatures from the nominating petition. In his written opinion issued Tuesday, he discarded 16 additional ones from which it was "obvious to a layman's eye and to this court that all or part of the signer's line information of the petition was filled in or overwritten in different pen and in different writing than that of the elector."

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The judge also discarded several pages of the 13-page nominating petition.

Eberly's petition had 349 signatures, and a minimum 300 valid signatures are required by state election statutes.

Flaherty has sent notice to Franklin County (Pa.) officials that Eberly "has insufficient valid signatures to remain on the ballot."

Pace's challenge was based on a number of contentions including that electors listed the wrong political district or were not registered, information was "altered by another hand" and Eberly signed an affidavit saying he circulated the petitions when Pace alleged that someone else did.

Eberly did not attend last week's hearing, and he was not represented by an attorney.

In a prepared statement earlier this month, Eberly labeled Pace as one of Rock's "associates" and condemned the actions of the associates who gathered the information used to build Pace's case.

Pace said Tuesday he did not discuss the challenge with Rock before filing it.

"When he (Eberly) refers to these people as my associates, that's an incorrect statement," Rock said March 19.

Rock did not return phone calls Tuesday. A family member said he was out of town to be with an ailing relative.

Pace said he did not know Rock personally before his candidacy was announced last fall but selected Rock as his "candidate of choice."

"I have worked with the Todd Rock campaign. ... I campaigned with him personally. I was going door to door with him," Pace said.

Fleagle said he thinks "it's disingenuous to say you don't know" what supporters are doing on your behalf.

Fleagle said it is a shame that Eberly "doesn't have a chance to debate his views."

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