Before our statewide candidates were extorted off the ballot, I had written a letter to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette where Republicans were my focus. The PG printed my letter today ("Contempt exposed") and it still was relevant given the removal from the ballot.
I also had an interesting conversation with their letter editor yesterday about my LTE. She called about a grammar mistake she had corrected before she sent it along to press, but we then talked about ballot access and how (my words) it's now effectively illegal to run for statewide office in PA as a third party or independent candidate. She's not a political editor, but she said she would pass along a note about our conversation and the LPPA contact web page to their political editor.
I mention this to remind everyone that a letter can be an avenue leading into a newspaper's editors. While there's no guarantee of an editor calling our banished candidates or our state chair, there wouldn't even have been a phone call without the letter. She also said that I'm in the PG blackout period, but she encourages other letters from libertarians.
Here's the letter (and check the last letter on this page):
Pennsylvania's Republican Party proved beyond any doubt that it holds in contempt anyone sympathetic to the ideals of the tea party movement or anyone critical of the two-party monopoly.
On Aug. 9 GOP operatives filed last-minute challenges to ballot access petitions of the Libertarian and tea party statewide candidates (governor, lieutenant governor and U.S. senator). According to spokesman Mike Barley, the state GOP supports the challenge.
Petition signatures can be invalidated for reasons as innocent as omitting a middle initial. What's worse, the challenge is "loser pays." Deep-pocket Republicans are immune if too few signatures are invalidated. Challenger candidates, however, face devastating financial liability if just one too many is invalidated. In 2006 the Democrats' challenge cost the Green Party U.S. Senate candidate $80,000 for his crime of running for office.
Given Pennsylvania's decline from decades of incumbent party malfeasance, it's no wonder they require Bonusgate tactics, coercion and threats to protect their career politicians.
GOP claims of being a kindred spirit to America's grassroots awakening are a glaring falsehood. It would be more in character of the party to suggest banning third-party and challenger candidates.
Update: Letter from a Libertarian candidate that got bumped from the ballot:
August 17, 2010
I am saddened to announce that thanks to the blackmail forced upon the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania by the Republican Party of our state, I am forced to withdraw from the governor's race. The Republicans presented us wit...h a Hobson's choice of withdrawing our candidates from the ballot, incurring no costs assessed to us by the Republicans, or going on to court after the signature review and potentially bankrupting the Party and its candidates by fighting for the right to remain on the ballot, being assessed inflated costs and associated penalties should we lose, as have most third-party candidates in the past several years.
This blackmail, unfortunately for the public, extends to the voters of Pennsylvania as well and hurts them, due to Pennsylvania's draconian ballot access laws, even more than it hurts the LPPA. Hundreds of legally registered voters in this state had their names removed from our petitions due to an error of signature or a change of address within their voting district, among many things that ordinary voters do not realize will affect their franchise. Further, given that the Democratic candidate for Governor is as anti-female and anti-rights as his opponent, Tom Corbett, my absence from the ballot presents the voting public of Pennsylvania with a choice that is no choice, for either of two conservatives who are unlikely to provide the sweeping changes in taxes and in control of the legislature that the residents of the Commonwealth sorely need. There will be no debate of land use value taxes. There will be no discussion of reforming the legislative system in the state. Women's rights and minority rights in the Commonwealth will not be protected substantially.
I thank the members and candidates of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania for their hard work, the members of the Green Party and the Constitution Party, as well as many Tea Party activists, for their work and their support of the other third-party candidates who ran for statewide office this year, and I especially thank the members of Gertrude Stein Political Club in Pittsburgh for their support as well. My deepest gratitude goes to Mik Robertson, our state chair this year, for his efforts in coordinating the Libertarian defense to the signature challenge and for his sacrifice of time, money, and family in the process. I also thank the voters of Pennsylvania who responded to Libertarian solicitations to sign our nominating papers, especially those many whose names were struck from our nominating papers by the Republican Party due to legal technicalities designed to prevent their signatures from being counted.
I urge Pennsylvania's voters to rise up against a system that takes away their real choice in selecting candidates to be on the ballot, and to contact their state legislators to demand that the state electoral code be revised to provide a true chance for what is supposed to be provided for in the state constitution, free and equal elections.
"Let's make history together!"
Here is an option:
Write-In "Samuel E. Rohrer, Berks County" November 2, 2010 http://www.SamRohrerWriteIn.org
Volunteer at http://www.PatriotsForSamRohrer.org