It has been quite the Monday for Laurie MacDonald.

At a Commonwealth Court hearing in the morning to review her challenged nomination petitions, she suddenly announced to the judge that she was exiting the race for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District seat.

Later in the afternoon, MacDonald made another announcement that she was going to conduct a write-in campaign for the Republican nomination for the same seat.

“It became clear to me this morning that the Democrats here in Pittsburgh are deeply afraid of me as they have desperately kicked me off of the ballot,” wrote MacDonald, the president and CEO of the Center for Victims, in a statement on her campaign Facebook page.

“After facing the extreme corruption from the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania, I’ve decided to withdraw from the race for the 12th Congressional District as a Democrat and re-ignite my candidacy as a write-in option within the Republican Party. I look forward to working with voters to present moderate voices to our community. We must present voters with alternatives to the corrupt politicians like Summer Lee and Bhavini Patel.”

Now, rather than taking on Lee and Patel in the Democratic primary, MacDonald will try to overtake the lone Republican on the primary ballot – James Hayes – with a write-in campaign.

The day began with a hearing in front of Commonwealth Court judge Michael H. Wojcik with MacDonald and her attorney, Carl Zacharia, attempting to defend her nomination petitions.

Congressional candidates are required to submit signatures of 1,000 registered voters in hopes of securing a spot on the ballot. MacDonald turned in 132 pages of petitions with more than 2,300 signatures but a legal challenge argued that many, if not all, of the signatures were not valid.

In particular, one petition circulator had different signatures from one petition to the next.

James Walsh, an attorney for the four Democrats objecting to MacDonald’s candidacy, successfully argued that more than 700 signatures should not count, citing the above example. He also claimed that the remaining signatures were also in question.

After conferring with Zacharia, MacDonald announced in court that she was withdrawing from the race.

“Too many people play games in politics. I got my smackdown, didn’t I?”

“So I take it …,” Wojcik began

“We’re out,” MacDonald said.

“… You’re withdrawing,” he finished.

Interestingly, MacDonald sent WPXI-TV the following statement after the hearing:

“I was never running against Summer Lee, I was running against Bhavini Patel. [Patel] is not a good candidate, Summer Lee will beat her, and Summer Lee will have my support,” MacDonald said. “Patel is not a good politician, she has lost five times, and I am sure she will lose again.”

Conventional wisdom indicates that MacDonald’s withdrawal benefits Patel by reducing the race to a one-on-one contest.

There have been 34 other objection cases filed in the Commonwealth during this primary season, including three others involving candidates for the U.S. Congress.

Timothy Kramer, a Republican candidate for the 16th Congressional seat held by Rep. Mike Kelly, was removed from the ballot for failing to file a sufficient number of valid signatures on his nomination petitions. That case was also heard by Wojcik.

Dasha Pruett, a Republican hoping to challenge Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon in the 5th District, had a hearing on her petitions on Feb. 29 and is awaiting a decision, while Democratic 10th District hopeful John Broadhurst has a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Steve Ulrich is the managing editor of PoliticsPA.

This article was originally published in PoliticsPA.

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