Pennsylvania Senate Race Whittled Down

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., speaks to an election night gathering at his headquarters Tuesday, May 16, 2006, in Greentree, Pa. State Treasurer Bob Casey easily beat two challengers Tuesday to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Santorum in a race that national Democratic leaders hope will underscore public disapproval of the nation's Republican leadership.
AP Photo/John Heller
The time and money Republicans spent helping the Green Party field a U.S. Senate candidate may be a lost cause — unless Pennsylvania's highest court steps in and decides that he can compete against Republican Sen. Rick Santorum and Democratic state Treasurer Bob Casey.

Carl Romanelli, whose candidacy was backed by Santorum, is hoping the state Supreme Court will rule that state elections officials required him to gather far too many petition signatures to make the Nov. 7 ballot.

Commonwealth Court Judge James R. Kelley said during a hearing Monday that Romanelli, a railroad industry consultant from Wilkes-Barre, was 8,931 signatures shy of 67,070 he needed to qualify as a minor-party candidate.

Clifford Levine, an attorney for the Democrats, said the ruling "allows there to be a head-to-head matchup between Bob Casey and Rick Santorum, which is what obviously, in our view, Sen. Santorum was trying to avoid."

Romanelli has garnered about 5 percent in recent independent polls and campaign experts expect that the majority of those votes would go to Casey, which is precisely why Santorum and Republicans want Romanelli on the ballot, the Harrisburg Patriot-News said.

Romanelli did not attend Monday's hearing. In a statement issued later in the day, he said his fate would ultimately depend on the state Supreme Court determining how many signatures he needed to get on the ballot.

"The Democrats have a long way to go to get me off the ballot," Romanelli said.