A Commonwealth Court judge is expected to make a ruling Monday that may determine whether U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, will make the ballot for a fourth term. Supporters of his Democratic primary opponent in the 12th District race, U.S. Rep. Mark Critz of Johnstown, filed legal objections to Mr. Altmire’s nominating petitions, saying many were circulated by a 23-year-old staffer who lives in Shadyside, outside the district boundaries. Over several hours of testimony during a hearing Friday that touched on Twitter posts, Steelers games and car payments, the campaign drew close to rejecting so many of Mr. Altmire’s nominating signatures that he could be tossed off the April 24 primary ballot.
Congressional candidates need to have 1,000 signatures collected by circulators who live in their districts. Mr. Altmire’s campaign filed 1,651 and before Friday’s hearing agreed that more than 300 should be disqualified. The Critz campaign whittled away more through the day, leaving the McCandless Democrat with about 1,150. The balance rests with 2010 Syracuse graduate and O’Hara native Abby Silverman, who collected about 200 signatures and wrote on the petitions that she still lives in the 12th District township.
During court testimony Ms. Silverman said she has shared an apartment with roommates in Shadyside, in the 14th Congressional District, since early 2011. Critz attorney Scott Caulfield produced Twitter posts the staffer made about life in Shadyside and noted she paid her apartment’s cable bill. The Altmire campaign countered that she is registered to vote and licensed to drive in O’Hara, and has pay stubs, car payments, credit card statements and other documents sent there, but Mr. Caulfield argued otherwise.