Rivera withdraws from 158th ballot, will run as write-in

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Challenges over nominating petitions push GOP candidate off primary ballot

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times


Lenny Rivera, the Republican candidate for State House in the 158th District with drew his ballot position over challenges to his nominating petitions and will run as a write-in, instead.

NEW GARDEN — Lenny Rivera, the Republican candidate for State House in the 158th District, announced Wednesday that he would withdraw his nominating petitions for a position on the ballot and instead run a write-in campaign for the GOP nod in the April primary election, leaving both parties blaming each other for the situation.

Rivera’s petitions were challenged when questions arose over whether the candidate himself had circulated all of his petitions personally — as his notarized signature on the forms indicated — or not. The matter was expected to face a court hearing Thursday.

This marks the second time in two years that Republicans have found themselves facing a crisis with its candidate in the 158th District. In 2014, GOP candidate Cuyler Walker withdrew from the race in late September and was ultimately replaced by long-time and current State Rep. Chris Ross, who went on to defeat Democrat Susan Rzucidlo, who is running again this year.

“My opponent’s supporters challenged my petitions on technical grounds,” Rivera said in a statement issued Wednesday.  “Rather than divert my attention from the race and waste the time of our courts by fighting the challenge, I have chosen to withdraw my petition to be placed on the Primary Ballot and focus on winning the Republican Primary through a write-in effort.”

Rzucidlo, though, put the onus on Rivera for allegedly mishandling his nominating petitions — noting that as an attorney, Rivera should have understood what he was doing.

“It is unfortunate that Val DiGiorgio and Lenny Rivera feel the need to attack me and my campaign because of their shortcomings,” she said. “It was their own illegal and unethical actions in this most basic part of the campaign that created this unfortunate situation. The voters of the 158th district deserve representatives who follow the law and who will perform their duties ethically.”

An angry Chester County Republican Chair Val DiGiorgio blasted Rzucidlo and county Democrats for playing politics.

“The Democrats would rather play political games than run a campaign on the issues,” DiGiorgio said in a statement Wednesday.  “I’m not surprised.  Susan Rzucidlo and her supporters have no interest in talking about their support of Governor Wolf’s proposed budget which would levy massive tax increases on families and seniors in the 158th State House District and around the Commonwealth. Instead, Rzucidlo’s campaign would seek to take away voter choice in this election so that she might actually be successful in her 4th attempt for this office.  Lenny Rivera will not let that happen, and the Republican Party will ensure he is victorious on Tuesday, November 8th.  We look forward to the campaign.”

Rivera thanked his campaign volunteers and pledged to keep on fighting for the seat.

“I appreciate the great work my volunteers have put into this race, and I look forward to doubling my efforts to earn the support of the residents of the 158th State House District.”

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