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Rock won't fight decision to put Fleagle on ballot

July 14, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

There will be a two-man race for the 90th District seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives after Republican nominee Todd Rock announced Thursday he will not appeal Tuesday's decision by the Franklin County Election Board that gave the Democratic nomination to state Rep. Patrick E. Fleagle or pursue a recount.

"The best way to resolve this would be to open up the ballot boxes," Rock said Thursday, noting that Fleagle had filed an objection to the recount with the Court of Common Pleas. A recount of Democratic write-in votes could have worked in either candidates' favor, he said.

Rock said he could have appealed the Election Board decision over several "hybrid votes" recorded on tally sheets as being for "Congress 90th District" or "General Assembly 9th District" rather than General Assembly 90th District. There also were discrepancies between the number of hash marks and the number of votes recorded on some tally sheets and some of the misspellings of Fleagle's name could have been challenged, he said.

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However, Rock said he did not believe in "dragging it out" any longer.

"We'll continue with the campaign and win it in November," he said.

The Election Board ruled Tuesday that Fleagle could consolidate all 339 Democratic write-in votes he received under various versions and misspellings of his name in the May 16 primary. The board also ruled that Rock could consolidate all but one of the 337 votes he received, the exception being one for David Rock, a registered voter in the district.

The rulings gave Fleagle, a nine-term incumbent, a three-vote edge for the Democratic nomination to appear on the November ballot.

Rock, 42, of Mont Alto, Pa., defeated Fleagle by a 111-vote margin in the May 16 primary. It was the first primary challenge Fleagle faced since the GOP primary in 1988, the year he was elected to the office.

"I'm glad to focus on the campaign rather than getting on the ballot," Fleagle said Thursday. "This will definitely give people a choice and an incentive for Democrats and Republicans to come out and vote."

"My opponent pretty much directed the first round in the primary as a one-issue race ... concentrating on how much money I make and how many perks I get," Fleagle said. The race will now be about "a contrast of our records and experience, or lack thereof."

In a statement issued Thursday, Rock said he is "pledging to contribute towards my health care premium, so that I pay the same amount as ... state employees who are unionized." Rock also pledged not to accept a "taxpayer-reimbursed car lease, currently provided to members of the General Assembly."

Republican supporters of Rock petitioned the court for a recount, but Fleagle said he filed the objection earlier this week on the advice of legal counsel. Marcus Lemon, who represented Fleagle at the June 22 Election Board hearing, said then that members of one party do not have legal standing to challenge the outcome of another party's primary.

"You're just opening the door for chaos in any primary election" if that were allowed, Fleagle said.




How it happened



Patrick E. Fleagle, a Republican incumbent, lost the primary race to Todd Rock on May 16. Since no Democrat was on the primary ballot, both candidates were eligible to win the Democratic primary if they collected at least 300 write-in votes. Both candidates received at least 300 votes, but Fleagle received three more write-in votes on the Democratic side to win the nomination and appear on the November ballot.

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