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Pa. Lt. Gov. Mike Stack already faces a crowded field in his bid for reelection, with six Democrats lining up to challenge him the primary. Now another potential roadblock has surfaced.
On Tuesday just after 4 p.m., an official challenge to Stack’s claim of Philadelphia residency was filed in Pa. Commonwealth Court.
The document, called a “petition to set aside nomination petition,” outlines recent confusion over what address Stack and his wife Tonya call home, and suggests the address Stack listed on his nominating petition is inaccurate.
Last spring, the Inquirer and the Post-Gazette reported the lieutenant governor had billed the state for thousands of dollars in hotel stays in Philly while he owned a house here. But that house was subsequently sold, the petition alleges, and since then, Stack hasn’t owned property in Philadelphia. He lives in the lieutenant governor’s residence in Fort Indiantown Gap.
Wouldn’t be a problem, except that on Stack’s nominating petition for reelection is a Philly address: 1247 Southampton Rd. That house is owned by his mother, he has admitted in the past. It’s also where he’s registered to vote, which is allowed under state law.
What’s not allowed? Presenting it as his actual residence.
As noted in section 18 of the petition:
The “Instructions for Completion of the Candidate’s Affidavit” posted on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website clearly state that “residential address pertains to where [the candidate] actually resides”; it does not reference where the candidate is registered to vote.
To prove its point, the petition trots out other controversies swirling around the beleaguered incumbent. Stack and his wife have been accused of verbally abusing their state police detail and other staff — and many of those much-investigated incidents took place in Fort Indiantown Gap.
“In the face of the clear instructions,” the petition reads, “Stack signed a Candidate’s Affidavit, swearing that he resides at his mother’s home, despite previously stating through a spokesperson that all of his furniture and belongings have been moved to the Lieutenant Governor’s residence.”
Who’s behind the challenge to Stack’s candidacy is unclear.
The petition is signed by three PA residents who are not legally affiliated with any other candidate in the May 15 primary. Sources, however, tell Billy Penn Democratic challenger Nina Ahmad’s campaign could be involved.
Ahmad was deputy mayor under Jim Kenney. Back in January she stepped down to run for Bob Brady’s soon-to-be-vacated seat in the U.S. House. In February, when the congressional districts were thrown into turmoil as the map was overhauled, Ahmad jumped out of that race and into the battle for lieutenant governor.
Asked whether Ahmad was behind the address petition, the campaign told Billy Penn it would provide a statement on the matter. At publication time, no statement had been received.
If the court agrees with the petitioners, Stack’s nominating petition could be rendered invalid, and he could end up out of the race.