Election 2010: Hoeffel Slams Onorato As 'Cowardly'

Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel slammed Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato as "cowardly" today after Hoeffel's nominating petitions for the May 18 Democratic primary election for governor were challenged in Commonwealth Court yesterday.  The court challenge was dropped this afternoon.

Hoeffel's campaign this morning claimed the five voters listed on yesterday's challenge were acting on behalf of Onorato. "Dan Onorato has good reason to be scared, and now he has turned desperate," Hoeffel campaign manager Lauren Townsend said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. "This is a cowardly act." 

The legal challenge was filed by Pittsburgh attorney Clifford Levine, who served on Onorato's 2004 transition team and has done legal work for his campaigns.  Onorato has appointed and re-appointed one of the voters who challenged Hoeffel to the Allegheny County Juvenile Detention Board of Advisors.

Brian Herman, a spokesman for Onorato, just e-mailed this statement:  "Every competent campaign checks their opponents' petitions and challenges any questionable ones to defend itself. Based on the obvious motive and opportunity for one particular candidate to remove the only other candidate who shares his base, one of my supporters filed a legitimate challenge. Since no other challenges were filed as were anticipated, we are pleased that the challenge has been withdrawn and that the candidate field hasn't changed."

Hoeffel's campaign said it submitted 7,632 signatures on nominating petitions circulated in 33 of the state's 67 counties.  A candidate for governor needs at least 2,000 signatures, with at least 100 each gathered in at least 10 counties.