Commissioner race could be crowded
By DAVE PIDGEON, Staff
Published: Jul 31, 2007 1:23 AM EST
LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - Make room for one more candidate in this year's race for Lancaster County commissioner.
Attorney Jim Clymer, the 59-year-old national chairman of the conservative Constitution Party, confirmed Monday he plans to add his name to the November ballot. He said he plans to turn in his nominating petitions to the county Board of Elections on Wednesday.
Clymer, however, said he intends only to keep the spot warm as he hopes to find someone else to represent the Constitution Party in the election.
"I'm going to be running initially as a placeholder," he said Monday.
Clymer ran a losing campaign for county commissioner in 2003 and said he does not plan to run again, though he would not entirely rule it out.
"I never say never, but it's not my desire or my intention to at this present time," he said. "I would probably not. I probably would withdraw."
Adding a Constitution Party candidate — someone who is for limited government and fiscal restraint, Clymer said — means a field of six would vie for three county commissioner seats on Nov. 6.
The Republican nominees are former Youth Intervention Center director Scott Martin and County Controller Dennis Stuckey. Democrats nominated Lancaster city Treasurer Craig Lehman and incumbent Commissioner Molly Henderson.
Independent candidate Jere Swarr, a Rapho Township supervisor, who turned in his nominating petitions Friday, also is running for the post.
Bruce Beardsley, chairman of the Lancaster County Democratic Committee, said Clymer's entrance into the race is advantageous for Henderson and Lehman.
"The more (conservative candidates) who are in the race, the more the Republican voters are divided, the more opportunity for Democrats," Beardsley said. "If you have a certain amount of Republican votes, and it's split four ways, each of them gets a smaller vote."
Lancaster County Republican chairman Dave Dumeyer and Andrew Heath, the local GOP's executive director, were not immediately available for comment Monday night.
Clymer finished fifth in the 2003 contest with 13 percent of the vote, just behind Democrat Bill Saylor.
"The right candidate would have a good shot at winning, and probably a better shot than in 2003," Clymer said. "I say that in part because national polls show that there's more receptiveness now to a third party than there has been in many years.
"More and more people are seeing the light, seeing the truth: There (is) very little difference between the two (major) parties."
To appear on the ballot, Clymer will have to turn in 888 signatures from registered voters to the county Board of Elections by 5 p.m. Wednesday. The number is equal to 2 percent of the total votes for the winner of the last countywide election — U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts in 2006.
Clymer's nominating petitions also include G. Friedrich Schrom of Lititz, chairman of the Constitution Party's Lancaster County chapter, who plans to run for register of wills against GOP nominee Mary Ann Gerber.
Voters who have signed either Clymer's or Schrom's petitions are nominating both to appear on the ballot.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, this is permissible as long as the person signing the petition is eligible to vote for both candidates.
For example, a person running for Lancaster County treasurer can't add a candidate to his or her petition who is seeking a commissioner's post in Bradford County. Voters can't participate in both elections.
Should a Constitution Party candidate appear on the ballot this year, it will mark the third consecutive election for the post in which the party has fielded a nominee. Clymer ran in 2003 and Casey McDonald in 1999.