HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Republicans want Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr booted from the state’s ballot, alleging shady dealings by local Libertarians. Meanwhile, the Barr camp blamed Republican presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain for trying to shove him off the ballot and demanded that McCain personally intervene.
Cumberland County GOP chairman Victor Stabile, an attorney who filed suit to remove Barr, said he’s fine with third-party candidates, but is crying foul because Libertarians listed Rochelle Etzel of Clarion County as their prospective presidential candidate when gathering petition signatures to put a nominee on the ballot.
Stabile acknowledged that state law allows parties to replace a candidate who withdraws, but said Pennsylvania Libertarians never intended for Etzel to run.
“The problem we have is that, as we understand it, and based upon the evidence that I’ve seen is that they circulated these petitions with Etzel’s name, never intending her to be the candidate,” Stabile said. “They went to the convention, nominated Barr, and then she withdrew.”
Stabile said his court filing cites internal Libertarian e-mail indicating that they intended to nominate Barr, not Etzel, and likened it to voter fraud.
But Pennsylvania Libertarian Party Chair Mik Robertson decries the allegations based on the timeline of the Libertarian nomination process. Robertson said the state party decided to nominate Etzel in February, at which time the party started gathering the 25,000 signatures necessary to put a candidate on the ballot. Barr announced his intention to run for president in mid-May, and the Libertarian national convention wasn’t held until the weekend of May 26.
“There was no way to know that (Barr) was even in contention,” Robertson said. “Much less the national party nominee at the time we started gathering signatures.
”What’s more, Robertson said the ballot access laws in Pennsylvania are “heavily, heavily stacked” against third-party candidates.
“They require us to have a candidate in May,” Robertson said. “And (Democrats and Republicans) don’t have a candidate yet.”