DeWeese can't serve; take him off the ballot

File: Bill DeWeese, D-Greene, pauses as he address the floor of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Bill DeWeese ought to do the right thing and ask that his name be removed from the November ballot for the state House seat he held for 36 years. But if he doesn't, someone should again challenge his preposterous candidacy in court.


It was bad enough that DeWeese ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on the same day that he was sentenced for his conviction on five felony charges involving his use of taxpayer-paid aides to do political campaign work.

DeWeese got nearly 2,000 votes in the May 24 Democratic primary after collecting 1,304 signatures on a petition to keep him on that ballot. That just goes to show you how much his Western Pennsylvania district loves him, which is sickening, but understandable. The former House speaker was a powerful resource for his constituents.

One of the rare dissenters, Travis Barkley, a former Republican who once ran unsuccessfully for the Greene County Commission, tried to keep DeWeese off the primary ballot. But his petition was denied by a Commonwealth Court judge as well as the state Supreme Court. The courts said that prior to his sentencing, DeWeese was not yet a felon barred from holding elected office.

But now that he has been sentenced, and will be locked up for up to 60 months, DeWeese is a felon and shouldn't participate in the November election. Sure, some mob bosses run their operations from a prison cell. But DeWeese will not only be in jail; he will be ineligible to serve. His candidacy in November is meaningless.

DeWeese ought to save his former constituents further embarrassment and have his name taken off the ballot. Otherwise, someone should go back to the courts and ask that the felon's name be removed. Meanwhile, state officials need to plan a special election so residents of the 50th District can be properly represented in the legislature.