A Pennsylvania judge is mulling whether to bounce Green Party presidential nominee Howie Hawkins from the Nov. 3 ballot, due to a legal challenge that has the state Democratic Party’s fingerprints all over it.
Commonwealth Court Judge J. Andrew Crompton may rule as soon as Wednesday after a three-hour hearing Monday. The legal question: Did the Green Party meet the state deadline to file candidate affidavits for its presidential ticket?
The party initially put up Elizabeth Faye Scroggin for president and Neal Taylor Gale for vice president on Aug. 3, but replaced them a week later with Hawkins for president and Angela Walker for vice president.
The challenge focuses on the affidavits for Scroggin and Gale.
Pittsburgh attorney Clifford Levine, who has done work for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, filed the challenge last month on behalf of Paul Stefano, chairman of the Lawrence County Democratic Party, and Tony Thomas, who ran as a Democrat for Wilkes-Barre City Council last year.
The state Democratic Party didn’t respond to requests for comment when asked what, if any, role it played in sponsoring the challenge. Clout asked Levin if the state party played a role: “They’re aware of it,” he said.
The challenge at first tried to also have the Green Party’s candidates for state row offices — Richard Weiss for Attorney General, Olivia Faison for Auditor General, and Timothy Runkle for Treasurer — removed from the ballot. That portion of the challenge was dropped last Thursday.
Why would the Democratic Party care about Green Party candidates? Polls show the race for president narrowing in Pennsylvania between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2016 presidential candidate, won 49,941 votes that year, or 0.8% of the ballots cast. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the state by 44,292 votes, a margin of 0.7%.
The Green Party has denounced the Democratic Party, accusing it of “voter suppression that rivaled the more well-know efforts of Trump and the Republicans to undermine Democracy.”
Crompton, who had served as a top lawyer and adviser to State Senate Republicans, was nominated to the court in November by Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, in a move that sparked controversy about political deals for judicial seats. His appointment was approved by the Senate in December.