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Ohio Gov. John Kasich is now free to compete in Pennsylvania, where a lawsuit threatened his candidacy.

Credit: Nick Buchta

Since his March 9 hearing, College sophomore Nathaniel Rome has emerged at the center of a petition to remove Ohio Gov. John Kasich from the Pennsylvania ballot.

The legal challenge, which claimed that Kasich’s nomination forms included hundreds of ineligible signatures, has spawned coverage from The Washington Post, CNN, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Philadelphia magazine, The National Review and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.

Rome is the chairman of Pennsylvania Students for Rubio and the Academic Affairs Director for the Undergraduate Assembly.

The case proceeded on Monday morning in Commonwealth Court once Kasich’s attorney Lawrence Otter released his supplemental brief, arguing that Rome submitted his brief 13 minutes too late.

Otter’s brief frequently cited from a 2008 Supreme Court of Pennsylvania case, “In Re Nomination Papers of James," which dealt with a similar but not identical issue where a petition deadline had been extended to 12:00 p.m. The court ruled that challenges could be submitted up until 5 p.m. on the seventh day after election papers were due, defining the “end of the seventh day” as 5 p.m.

He also responded to a case cited by John Bravacos, Rome’s attorney. Bravacos argued on March 9 that his client had until 11:59 p.m. to submit his challenge due to the Commonwealth Court decision “In Re Nomination of Mann,” which read an 11:59 p.m. extension from the same statute at issue in Rome’s case.

Though “Mann” and “James” give explicitly different readings of the statute, Otter argued that “James” should get precedence because it came from a Supreme Court decision after “Mann.”

Bravacos has until Wednesday to submit his response brief, one day after Kasich and Rubio will compete in decisive primaries in Ohio and Florida.

Over the weekend, Trump sent out two tweets claiming that Kasich would not be permitted on the Pennsylvania ballot. 

The Kasich campaign released a statement on Sunday about Trump's tweets, stating, “It is the same kind of dishonest, underhanded tactic that Sen. Ted Cruz pulled against Dr. Ben Carson in Iowa and for which he was forced to apologize.”

In a stipulation with Bravacos, Otter agreed that 192 of Kasich’s signatures could not be verified. If those names were stricken from the 2,184 he submitted, he would not have met the required 2,000 signatures to be on the ballot.

Otter’s legal argument positioned the missed deadline as a “fatal defect,” according to court papers, nullifying the need for the court to review the merits of the case: whether Kasich actually had the correct number of signatures.

The case is anticipated to go before a three-judge panel with a chance of receiving review by the state Supreme Court.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the Kasich campaign was responding to Nathaniel Rome's petition. They actually were responding to Donald Trump's tweets about the petition. The DP regrets the error.

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