Last week, the Commonwealth Court ruled that Frederick Ramirez was ineligible to be on the ballot for the special election in the 197th House District. The House Democratic Campaign Committee (HDCC) is looking to replace Ramirez with a hard deadline of Friday.
HDCC filed a replacement candidate with the Department of State Monday morning. The Department of State is expected to deny the request, which is where the drama will start.
Update: The new candidate is Emilio Vasquez, an auditor at the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
The Department of State is expected to deny the new filing because the window for changing the names on the ballot has already passed. But the filing in Commonwealth Court that ruled Ramirez was ineligible occurred after that date had passed meaning HDCC could not possibly file in time.
HDCC and the Democratic Party are exploring all legal options to ensure the candidate’s name is on the ballot.
The Commonwealth Court ruled in 2014 that the Republican Party could replace the name of Rep. Chris Ross on the ballot in the General Election after Ross decided to end his bid for re-election in September. The Court cited that voters deserve a choice in elections as one of the main reasons for their decision. They could rule similarly in this case, but since it is a special election, the process for getting on the ballot is different and could cause problems for that argument.
If all routes to get the new name on the ballot fail, HDCC feels pretty good about its chances running a write-in campaign. The 197th is 85% Democratic and only 5% Republican.
Republicans are running Lucinda Little for the seat. The Philadelphia Republican Party believes that the election is a good chance to have the district represented in the majority caucus.
“Getting a Republican elected out of the 197th would get the attention of the Republican leadership, and give the district a voice in the caucus,” Philadelphia GOP Chairman Joe DeFelice said.