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

LennyRivera

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.

Updated 6:20 p.m. with comments from Democratic County Chair Brian McGinnis

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.”

Brian McGinnis, chair of the county;s Democratic Party had a different take on the events.

“Voters should evaluate and choose elected officials based on their trustworthiness and their ability to make good judgments and follow the rule of law,” McGinnis said in a statement.  “Republican candidate for the 158th Lenny Rivera chose to ignore and/or violate election laws with regard to the submission of signatures in the nominating petition process. 

This is not just bad behavior for a state legislator candidate; in doing so, he knowingly made sworn false statements to a public notary, a second degree misdemeanor (18 Pa.C.S. § 4904).  This illegal behavior should not be rewarded with a free pass to be on the ballot April 26, and should his expected write-in campaign be successful, voters should seriously question his honesty and integrity on November 8th, particularly given the current lack of trust state voters have in their legislators in Harrisburg to pass a realistic budget.”

McGinnis said he didn’t think it was fair for Republicans to take umbrage at a legal challenge to one of their candidates petitions, either.

“Democrats play by the rules; so should the Republicans, especially given their previous abuse of the election schedule in withdrawing a flawed candidate for the 158th two months after the state-mandated deadline and inserting one who did not go through the primary process in 2014,” McGinnis said.  “For Val DiGiorgio to say that Democrats are “playing political games” is disingenuous.”

He also expressed confidence that Rzucidlo was the stronger candidate and would succeed in November. 

“Susan Rzucidlo is a strong advocate for those in society least able to care for themselves,” McGinnis said.  “She has demonstrated integrity, knowledge of voter issues, made clear her positions, and conducted several hard, well-run campaigns against Chris Ross, a moderate Republican incumbent. The retiring Ross may have deserved and received a pass to go to Commonwealth Court to have his name insertedon the November 2014 ballot after all reasonable deadlines had passed and absentee ballots had to be retrieved, reprinted and mailed at taxpayer expense.  But Lenny Rivera has a process to follow and had plenty of time to do it correctly.  Any additional effort required on his behalf to get on the general election ballot because of failure to follow the law is his own fault.”

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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15 Comments

  1. CC says:

    i guess I am a little surprised someone would run for this office FOUR times! Just saying there are no other things Dems can waste money on…….perhaps screech at them like Hilary! Oh you have see above.

  2. Jack Guida says:

    It sounds like Lenny Rivera thinks he deserves the office and the signatures are just a formality to get the job, he doesn’t feel like he has to earn it. I don’t think this man deserves to be elected dog catcher.

  3. Robert Guzzardi says:

    Yikes Incompetent,self-serving losers Val DiGiorgio, lawyer/lobbyist and Chester County Republican Committee could not get enough petition signatures to get endorsed Republican on the primary ballot.

    Hopefully, VD lobbies better than he supports his candidates. Will Comcast be pleased if he fails to even get his candidate on the ballot?

    Registration Period : 2015-2016
    Registration No : L01254 Registration Status : Completed
    Registration Name : DIGIORGIO, III, VALENTINO Lobbying Commenced : 1/8/2007
    Acronym : Date Filed : 1/8/2007
    Phone# : 610-640-5804 Ext: Last Renewed : 9/9/2015
    Fax# : 610-640-1965 Email : VDIGIORGIO@STRADLEY.COM
    Address Line 1 : Great Valley Corporate Center
    Address Line 2 : 30 VALLEY STREAM PARKWAY
    City : MALVERN
    State : PA
    Zip Code : 19355
    Are you a licensed attorney? : Yes
    Are you licensed in PA? : Yes
    Photograph(s)
    Photograph on File:

    Principal(s)
    Name Registration Number Affiliated Start Date Affiliated End Date
    Archdiocese of Philadelphia P00255 01/01/2007 02/24/2016
    AXA Equitable Insurance Company P36800 08/15/2012
    Comcast Corporation P02319 01/01/2007 02/18/2016
    Delaware River Waterfront Corporation 08/01/2014
    Diageo P09102 04/01/2013 07/15/2013
    HOLY REDEEMER HEALTH SYSTEM 01/01/2007 02/24/2016
    Liberty Healthcare Corporation P10754 02/15/2008 02/24/2016
    THE PENNSYLVANIA HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY P01187 08/01/2011
    VANGUARD GROUP 01/01/2007 02/24/2016
    Lobbying Firm(s)

    Name Registration Number Affiliated Start Date Affiliated End Date
    STRADLEY RONON STEVENS & YOUNG, LLP F02812 01/08/2007

  4. Dee says:

    Val DiGiorgio’s pick for the 158th District seat was knocked off the ballot because he messed up his paper work.

  5. Judy Porta says:

    I applaud Susan Rzucidlo for holding Lenny accountable. It seems that the leadership of the Republican Party in Chester County is all about deceiving the county Republican voters. As a Democrat I do not look upon my Republican neighbors as enemies, I see them as thoughtful and concerned voters who respect the laws of this county and commonwealth. They, like me, want a government that listens to everyone’s opinion, investigates the law regarding these opinions and then makes decisions based on the facts of the matter and the applicable law. To have an attorney, who supposedly represents the Republicans in Chester County, deliberately and with prior knowledge, violate the law he is duty-bound to uphold does the Republicans in this county a great disservice.

  6. Bill Phifer says:

    Wow. I circulated nominating petitions for several candidates this year, and the process could not be more clearly stated. The instructions even included that it is a second degree misdemeanor for misrepresenting the circulator to a notary public. I’m amazed that Lenny Rivera – a lawyer, an ‘officer of the court’ – would so blatantly ignore something so important. But then for Val DiGiorgio to accuse the Democrats of “playing political games”?

    Let’s not forget what happened in the very last legislative election cycle… Chris Ross announces he’s retiring from this seat. DiGiorgio finally gets to hand-pick someone much farther to the right than moderate Ross, choosing Cuyler Walker. Walker is accused of heinous crimes and rather than face them with voters, pulls out of the race well past the deadline, forcing DiGiorgio to beg Ross to run one more time, just to retain the seat.

    Now two years later, DiGiorgio again gets his way from among three candidates, choosing far right-wing Rivera, who can’t even follow simple election rules. When his candidate is easily caught making false statements to a public official, DiGiorgio doubles down and instead of blaming HIS candidate, attacks those who uncovered his plot.

    Are we surprised?

  7. Kathleen Albright says:

    I had to get 250 signatures from a different district. The petition rules are not difficult to understand, they’re just diffucult to follow if you’re LAZY and ENTITLED.
    It seems that the Chester County Republican Committee is doing a dis-service to their own party members. After two elections in a row these people just don’t respect the rules. They don’t respect the Republican voters of Chester county’s intelligence. They don’t respect the electorate’s integrity by encouraging a write-in for a, at the very least a liar. What is their vetting process?
    At the next primary when Republicans elect their committee people, perhaps a change is due.
    If I lived in Chester county I’d ask the Republican Committee chair to step down.

  8. Wayne Braffman says:

    That’s ‘gall’ not ‘gaul.’ Sorry!

  9. Wayne Braffman says:

    If you saw someone in the act of committing a crime, would you call the police?

    That is exactly what Susan Rzucidlo did. And now the Chester County Republicans have the unmitigated gaul to scream that she is the guilty party? GIVE ME A BREAK!

    This incident speaks to both Rzucidlo’s character and that of Lenny Rivera. By knowingly breaking the law, Rivera has disqualified himself from serious consideration for any public office. Rzucidlo has demonstrated the courage and ethical core that I want in an elected official.

  10. Fern Kaufman says:

    Bravo Freedom. I could not agree more and also wholeheartedly agree with Brian McGinnis on every point. When I met Susan, she was taking her first run for this office as I was taking my second in my district. We both lost, but we gained something much more valuable. A sincere, lasting and immensely deep friendship that is growing to this day. What I have learned of this woman and her family is this and it is without refute: THERE IS NO BETTER CANDIDATE FOR PUBLIC OFFICE THAN SUSAN RZUCIDLO. Rather than take a cheap shot at her four runs for office, I say we celebrate her four runs for office. She has such passion and intellect that I say we get 200 more just like her and hope they all get elected. The state would never run better. The fact that she had such dirty tricks played on her, especially last year with the Chris Ross illegal move, yet she remains persistent in her cause. What else could anyone POSSIBLY ask for in a candidate??? Her ability and desire to keep coming back after taking a hit is the ultimate litmus test for the rigors of the most difficult of political environments. Anyone reading this. I urge you, don’t listen to the toxic political rhetoric flooding the airwaves and Internet. Make an educated, well informed choice by learning everything you can about your candidate and stand up for real change. Call Susan and talk with her. She will answer her own phone and be as up front and personal as anyone could ever want from someone destined to represent her district. Call the liars on their bluff and see for yourself by getting to know this remarkable woman as I have. If you are serious about politics and where you see our state over the next several years, you will not look back.

  11. Freedom says:

    “There you go again” Val. You ran an attorney while he was under criminal investigation 2 years ago. Now your candidate, another attorney, signs and notorizes petitions he never signed. It’s called lying. He broke the law.

    When desperate you fall back to the tax & spend boogie man is coming to get us and Susan is gonna drive him here. That is ridiculous and we see through it.

    Just follow the law. Lenny didn’t. As an attorney he should have known better so deflect all you want. He got caught. Republicans aren’t used to that in Chester County.

    I give her great credit for her perseverance. It shows me she wants to make a difference and I wish her well. We need more people like her running for elected office.

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