GOP to decide method for replacing candidate
Party must adopt rules for picking ballot substitute for Paule
Members of the Blair County Republican Committee from Altoona gathered on Monday for an organizational meeting to determine how they will pick a replacement on the City Council ballot in November for primary winner Samantha Paule — who withdrew recently because of blowback from old anti-American postings on social media.
Meanwhile, the Blair County Democratic Committee is planning a write-in campaign with a candidate who will announce within the next couple of weeks, said committee Chairwoman Gillian Kratzer.
The approximately 50 Republican “conferees” from Altoona were intending to establish timelines and adopt rules for choosing a ballot substitute for Paule, said county Chairman Jim Foreman, who attended only to provide guidance.
The county committee bylaws are vague about the process, saying only that in cases like the conferees face, they should “select” a new candidate, according to Foreman.
“We will try to figure out exactly how this process will go,” Foreman said.
He planned to share “best practices” from other jurisdictions for the conferees’ consideration — although they don’t necessarily need to follow the models, Foreman said.
It will be important, however, that the process be “fair and open,” he said.
Several potential candidates have expressed an interest in the ballot slot, which will feature two Republicans and no Democrats running for two seats, those of incumbents Bill Neugebauer and Erik Cagle — neither of whom ran in the primary.
The conferees have until Aug. 22 to file a “substitute nomination certificate” with the Blair County election office, Foreman said.
“I expect that it will be filed well in advance,” Foreman said.
The damage to Paule’s candidacy during the weeks following exposure of her old posts was “absolutely a part” of the Democrats’ effort to organize a write-in campaign, Kratzer said.
Part of it was also in response to someone with her history having gotten through the nomination process in the first place, Kratzer indicated.
There was also the feeling of the soon-to-be-announced Democratic candidate — who had expressed interest in running previously — “that this is the moment,” Kratzer said.
Asked whether seeking the special nomination by conferee may be more appealing than running in the primary — given that only two candidates ran in the primary and several have come forward for the conferee nomination — Foreman was ambivalent.
“Statistically, you can make that argument,” given that City Council candidates need to collect 100 valid signatures from voters to get onto the primary ballot, Foreman said.
However, with the conferees, “you don’t just need to convince your neighbor on your porch you’re a nice guy,” he said. Rather, potential candidates must convince a healthy share of 50 politically active committee individuals who are familiar with the city’s issues that they are worthy for a spot in city government, he said. Most likely, they’ll need to submit to “lots of questions,” he added. Moreover, in the current situation, each of the potential candidates will be competing with all the others, he said.
There were to be no presentations by those potential candidates Monday, Foreman said.
“We’re just setting the stage for an orderly process,” he said.
Paule withdrew her candidacy despite saying at first that she planned to continue.
She has renounced the postings and apologized.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.