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'Incumbent protection'

Regarding Randy Smith’s letter (“Follow the rules,” May 6) saying hundreds are on the ballots, he should have said hundreds of incumbents are on the ballot and dozens of their challengers were eliminated because of a mistake the state Election Bureau admitted to in court.

That is why Gordon Marburger and many others won in the Appellate Court, because he was able to tell his story of what happened, and they agreed, putting him on the ballot.

What happened is several dozens of potential candidates did exactly what Marburger did: follow exactly the four-step check list provided by the state website which included filing an ethics form with all the other paperwork required. He even asked the election bureau worker in Harrisburg, when he filed his paperwork, if he needed to do anything else and she responded with a “no,” everything was in order.

Now if the state added a Step 5, or verbally told Marburger and the other candidates, “File a duplicate ethics form with the ethics commission,” then the voters would have had 35-plus additional candidates on the ballots across the state.

Or maybe that was the intention of the rules — to eliminate competition — because 100 percent of the people who challenged the late filings to the ethics commission were all supporters of incumbents. For Marburger, they were two of incumbent state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s supporters/ex-staff who filed suit.

So the writer is correct, more than 200 current state legislators did get on the ballot (again), except one, and nearly half of their challengers got knocked off, including a governor candidate. Oh, and the one incumbent who made the exact mistake as Margburger and dozens of others — well surprise, he got to stay on the ballot.

This system is just part of the informal “incumbent protection program” that our nation’s largest and most highly compensated legislators created to protect their jobs.

The Commonwealth Foundation stated that our state, over the past 40 years, has sunk to a No. 49 ranking in economic development, 48th in population growth and 46th in income growth. But we should feel good that our state legislator compensation is first in the nation.

For more than 300 years, our state was successful with a part-time legislature and it was not until the past few decades that we had a fulltime Legislature. Only three other states have a full-time legislature, with no term limits and no voter-led referendum. All four are on the bottom of the heap as far as job growth and economic development.

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