For N.A. Poe, a marijuana-legalization activist from Philadelphia, running for state attorney general was a lark to draw attention to the issue.
The state Republican and Democratic Parties didn’t find it funny.
Both parties filed legal challenges Monday seeking to remove Poe – a stage name for the activism work and comedian act of Richard Tamaccio – from the Nov. 8 general election ballot as the Libertarian Party candidate.
Poe on Tuesday said he was examining his options, one of which was to “bow out gracefully.”
His humor was intact, even as his candidacy was on the edge of extinction.
“If Donald Trump can be the president, why can’t a high-school-educated comedian be the chief law enforcement officer of Pennsylvania?” he asked.
Education is the root of Poe’s problem. The state constitution requires the attorney general to hold a license to practice law in Pennsylvania. Poe didn’t go to college or law school.
The Republicans and Democrats, using a small group of party functionaries to file the challenges in Commonwealth Court, each noted that Poe does not meet the constitutional qualifications.
“It’s an obvious, glaring thing,” said attorney Adam Bonin, who filed the challenge for the Democrats. “Mr. Poe is not qualified for the office.”
Megan Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the state Republican Party, agreed.
“We believe this candidate doesn’t meet the constitutional threshold,” she said.
Shawn House, a hemp-products manufacturer who chairs the state Libertarian Party, said it would review the challenges to see if they had merit.
Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro is the Democratic nominee for attorney general. State Sen. John Rafferty of Montgomery County is the Republican nominee.
The Republican challenge also accuses Poe of filing in “bad faith” a statement of financial interests listing his occupation as “comedian/public speaker” with no income.
And it raises Poe’s 2013 federal conviction from smoking marijuana during a rally at Independence Hall. He was sentenced to one year of probation.
The Republican challenge accuses him of “actively deceiving the Pennsylvania voting population as to his fitness for office” by using the name Poe.
The Pennsylvania Department of State lists Poe by that name as a candidate in the election.
Poe’s candidacy also faces a third challenge, filed Sunday in Commonwealth Court by Diane Gochin, a Huntingdon Valley resident acting as her own attorney.
Poe was the Libertarian candidate in a 2014 special election for a Philadelphia City Council at-large seat. He won 4,403 votes, which was 5.23 percent of the ballots cast in that election.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
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Author: Chris Brennan
Photo Credit: Ben Mikesell