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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A petition filed by the chairman of the Ross Township Republican Party and one other alleges that Lindsey Williams, the Democratic candidate for state Senate, has not lived in the state long enough to run for office.
“It [the state Constitution] requires that she’s lived here for four consecutive years before she’s able to take office,” Jason Gottesman, communications director for the Pennsylvania Republican Party told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.
Republican party officials claim Williams was not living here on Nov. 6, 2014 — four years before this year’s election — so she cannot run for Senate.
“The facts show that she was not a resident within the constitutionally required timeline,” notes Gottesman.
“It’s a publicity stunt. It’s nothing more than a publicity stunt,” says attorney Adam Bonin, who represents the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
Democrats dismiss the allegation as bogus.
“Lindsey Williams has been a resident for the four years required under the Constitution,” adds attorney Cliff Levine, who also represents the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “She worked here. She actually went to schools here, her law school and college.”
In a memo written by Republican attorneys, Republicans say documents show Williams voted in Maryland on Nov. 4, 2014.
Democrats say she voted early in October.
“Actually, she early voted and then she accepted a position with the Pittsburgh Teachers Federation, which she accepted on Oct. 30, and was actually driving back to Pennsylvania to start moving back to Pennsylvania on Nov. 2,” says Levine.
Levine says the Republicans are seven months late in filing their objections.
“It’s too late,” he says. “You got to do these challenges when people file their petitions, so they are violating the election code when they are filing this now.”
Not so, says Gottesman.
“The timing here is irrelevant given the serious and grave nature of the constitutional violation that we’re seeking to be redressed,” notes Gottesman.
Republican officials want the Commonwealth Court to toss Williams off the ballot.
“The complaint is asking for her to be removed from the ballot,” says Gottesman.
That would, of course, leave only Republican Jeremy Shaffer on the ballot for voters to choose.
“They want to have a Russian type democracy at all sorts of levels where only one candidate gets to run,” notes Levine.
Democrats contend that Shaffer and Republican officials are so worried about Lindsey Williams winning the Senate seat, traditionally held by Republicans, that they are throwing everything they can at her.
Shaffer insists that he has absolutely nothing to do with this lawsuit.
Shaffer defeated Pennsylvania Sen. Randy Vulakovich in the Republican primary last spring, creating an open seat that many see as up for grabs.
The election is three weeks from Tuesday.