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Constitution Party's Virgil Goode Off Pennsylvania Ballot

by Carl Wicklander, published

Third party candidates have had a notoriously difficult road in America. Many supporters of former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson have objected to the black out treatment their man has received from the mainstream media despite respectable poll numbers in his native state.

The coverage of the Constitution Party's Virgil Goode has mostly been relegated to the notion that the former congressman might siphon enough of the vote in his native Virginia and neighboring North Carolina to cost Mitt Romney each state.

Goode recently submitted over 20,000 signatures to Virginia election officials to gain ballot access in Virginia. A Public Policy poll released last week showed Goode earning 4%, taking it "pretty much all from Romney, pushing him down to 42% while Obama remains at 50%, giving him an 8 point lead."

According to Virginia's State Board of Elections, there will be a decision next week whether Goode's Virginia signatures are accepted.

But even though Goode is looking relatively good in his home state, his race for the White House became more difficult last week when the Constitution Party withdrew its petition to get on the Pennsylvania ballot, the home state of its vice presidential candidate James Clymer.

In the Keystone State, the Constitution Party submitted approximately 35,000 signatures. According to ballot access laws, which The Examiner reports are unavailable online, a third or independent party must:

"Gather petitions signed by a number of people at least equal to 2% of the largest vote cast for an elected candidate in the last statewide election, which currently sets the constantly moving bar at 20,601 people."

But the Republican Party challenged the authenticity of many of these signatures claiming that they were "filled with errors" and that "the petitions were circulated by and signed largely by Democrats."

The Constitution Party finally gave up the fight in Pennsylvania. According to a report in the Philadelphia Weekly, what is dubbed an "alternative" newspaper:

"Republican Party lawyers had warned the Constitution and Libertarian Parties that their court costs could reach more than $100,000 if they lost signature challenge bids. (In Pennsylvania, candidates kicked off the ballot can be forced to pay their opponents' legal fees.) That forced the Constitution party, who's already paid about $50,000 in legal fees, to blink."

Constitution Party secretary Donna Fike admitted that the decision to withdraw from the challenge "came down to money."

Surely the GOP knows Democrats are not likely to break ranks with President Obama in favor of either the Libertarian or Constitution Parties. It's likely the Republican Party is less concerned about the validity of signatures than about Republicans breaking away from their own unappealing candidate. It's about assuring fewer voices because of the fear that several Republican voters will leave the GOP and cross party lines to vote for a third party candidate.

It's no mystery why the GOP is heavily contesting the Constitution and Libertarian Parties-- the Libertarians are still in court in Pennsylvania. A state which hasn't voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988, Pennsylvania is leaning Democrat in 2012, but is not firmly in the blue column. Native son and vice presidential nominee Clymer does not have the heft a Virgil Goode might have in Virginia or Gary Johnson might have in New Mexico, but the decision to no longer fight completes the damage.

Despite the setback in Pennsylvania, the Constitution Party is at least abiding by the saying of Barry Goldwater, "You go hunting where the ducks are." So, Clymer recently spoke at the 2012 Ron Paul Festival being held concurrently with the Republican National Convention in Florida, although to a lukewarm response.

The Paul forces are a natural reservoir for the Constitution Party to fish, but with outcomes like those in Pennsylvania it's going to be even harder for Paul voters to support movements like the Constitution Party.

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