Delco Tea Party Activist 'Befuddled' By Ballot Help

Our colleague William Bender just filed this report from Delaware County:

Is Jim Schneller an unwitting participant in a Democratic plot to split the conservative vote in the 7th Congressional District?  Or have a bunch of Delaware County Democrats – including those close to Democratic congressional candidate Bryan Lentz – become enamored with a right-wing candidate who questions President Obama’s citizenship and the findings of the 9/11 Commission?

"Much of this is a giant surprise. It’s befuddling to me," Schneller said today when confronted with evidence that Lentz’s allies and other politically active Democrats in the district helped place him on the ballot by gathering signatures on his behalf. Schneller, 54, of Wayne, said he hasn’t had any contact with the Lentz campaign. And he doubted that the Democrats who circulated his nominating papers were pushing his third-party candidacy in the hope that he would steal votes away from Republican Pat Meehan.

But even if that’s the case, Schneller doesn’t care."They don’t have to worry about me being some type of ticket splitter," Schneller said. "I intend to win."

"You failed, guys," he added.

For a third consecutive day, the Lentz campaign refused to confirm or deny if it was involved with getting Schneller on the ballot. Meehan’s campaign has accused Lentz of manipulating the election. Local tea-party groups are pressuring Schneller to withdraw from the race.

Schneller, who rode his bike home from Harrisburg this week to promote his campaign, doesn’t appear to be backing down. He wants in on all upcoming debates. During a 20-minute interview yesterday, he received five phone calls. "My campaign," he said, "will not suffer from this."