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Ross will stay on ballot in 158th District race

10/22/2014 08:42PM ● Published by Lev

By John Chambless

Staff Writer

An appeal that sought to block Republican Chris Ross from taking the place of former candidate Cuyler Walker in the 158th state House race was rejected last week in Commonwealth Court. Ross, who had sought to retire before being asked to take Walker's place, will be on the ballot for the November election.

Adam Bonin, a Philadelphia election law expert, represented six people who objected to Ross taking  Walker's place after the deadline had passed for a candidate to withdraw. Those named in the appeal were the Democratic candidate for the seat in the district, Susan Rzucidlo, along with Judy Porta, David Unger, former East Marlborough supervisor Richard Hicks, Diane Clayton and Mary Lynne Massi.

Bonin had argued that the nomination of Ross was a violation of the Election Code, which requires replacement candidates to file in Commonwealth Court at least 75 days before an election. Ross filed on Sept. 29. Ross was selected by Republican committee members over Republican candidate Roger Howard, who had previously lost to Walker in the GOP primary.

Walker has offered no details about his Sept. 22 announcement that he would withdraw from the race in the 158th District. Both the timing of Walker's withdrawal and intense speculation about his reasons for leaving the race have reportedly led to a criminal investigation, as yet unconfirmed.

In a press statement, Chester County Democratic chairman Brian McGinnis wrote, “The arrogance and disrespect displayed towards the voters is offensive. ... The public deserves a public explanation of what Chris Ross knows about the Cuyler Walker criminal investigation. What are they trying to cover up?”

Walker's name has been taken off of the website for the Pepper Hamilton law firm in Phialdelphia, where he had been a partner. He remains as the chairman of the East Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors.

In a telephone interview on Sept. 30, Ross said he was unaware of any investigation into Walker's actions. "Everybody was shocked by the sudden turn of events," he said. "I've done this nine times before. I know what needs to be done. I'm going to run an aggressive campaign, getting out in front of the voters and asking for their support.”

After the Oct. 6 meeting of the East Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors, Walker was asked if he had any comment on published reports suggesting that there is a criminal investigation of him. "No," he responded. When offered a chance to refute any rumors about him, Walker said, "No, I'm not going to elaborate."

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail jchambless@chestercounty.com.

 

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