Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.) will have an opponent this year after all. A judge had kicked retired Lt. Col. William Russell (R), a veteran of both Iraq Wars, off the ballot earlier this year for lack of valid petition signatures. A legal challenge had winnowed him down to just 993, whereas he needed 1,000 signatures. This gave Murtha a shot at an unopposed victory in the fall, as there were no other Republican challengers.
Russell did not give up, though. To qualify for the November ballot, he had to get at least 1,000 write-in votes in the district yesterday to qualify for the ballot. His consultants saw this as doable, but still a challenge in a primary where there was really nothing happening on the Republican side — not even a decent local race to attract voters to the polls. Considering that Republican turnout was already going to be low, and only a small percentage of voters ever think to write in a name, you might think they’d be lucky to get just enough to qualify.
Well, think again. I’m told that the count now stands at 4,700 write-in votes for Russell, and the largest county in the 12th District hasn’t even reported yet — nor have any absentees been counted.