State Rep. Louise Williams Bishop, who is seeking a 13th two-year term to represent her West Philadelphia district, will remain on the April 24 Democratic primary election ballot despite admitting in testimony that she signed as the circulator on nominating petitions that were really circulated by a friend.
Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer ruled Friday that Bishop could withdraw those petition pages, which still left her with enough valid signatures to stay on the ballot.
Four witnesses, all Bishop supporters, testified Monday that another person presented them with a nominating petition to sign for the 78-year-old legislator, who is also a host of a radio show and a minister.
Bishop testified that she and a friend drove around the 192d Legislative District, which includes Overbrook and Wynnefield, with the petitions. The friend would get out of the car to seek signatures while Bishop stayed in the car, she said.
"It was hard getting up all those steps all of the time," Bishop testified, adding that this was the first time she had circulated her own petitions and thought there was nothing wrong with their actions. "I never thought about it. We've always done this."
Jubelirer took note of the argument from lawyer Sam Stretton, who represented Bishop and said she had not knowingly violated state election law. A 2001 state Supreme Court case makes it clear that the person who circulates a nominating petition must sign as a circulator but that language is not as clear on the affidavit candidates must file that says they have not violated any election law, Stretton said.
"When you've been around that long, you have to know how to do this," countered lawyer Larry Otter, who represented Bishop's primary challenger, Will Mega. "It's just that simple."