Photo: Gage Skidmore (Flickr)
Five Indiana voters have formally challenged Rick Santorum‘s eligibility for the state‘s presidential primary. Election officials say Santorum failed to submit the required 500 petition signatures in the seventh congressional district, which comprises the southern two-thirds of Marion County.
The former Pennsylvania Senator disputes that claim, saying the Marion County Voter Registration Board wrongly threw out dozens of valid signatures. The board added 16 signatures to Santorum‘s total after the campaign submitted a list of 49 signatures for reconsideration. That still leaves him eight short.
Indiana law, however, leaves him on the ballot unless at least three of the four members of the Indiana Election Commission vote to kick him off. That hearing will take place sometime before March 1.
Hogan Gidley, National Communications Director for Rick Santorum, says the former Pennsylvania Senator would do well in Indiana if he gets the chance.
“Rick Santorum‘s a natural fit for the state of Indiana,” he says. “We expect to take his message of smaller government, manufacturing, bringing back those jobs that have been lost to china, and of course the social issues that are important to all Americans, to all the voters.”
Two Republicans and two Democrats serve on the commission. Its chairman, Former Schererville State Representative Dan Dumezich, is the Indiana Campaign co-chairman for Santorum‘s rival Mitt Romney. Voters have until Friday to file challenges.
At least two other candidates appear vulnerable. Republican gubernatorial hopeful Jim Wallace also came up short in the seventh district, while Patricia Sandifer of Lafayette submitted just one signature in filing for the Republican presidential ballot. That signature was her own.