Lehigh Valley

Michael Beyer's name stricken from May ballot by Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Republican-turned-Democrat candidate called himself a lawyer, but isn't

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Supreme County is ordering that Michael W. Beyer's name be stricken from the primary ballot as a candidate for the state Legislature.

Monday's order reverses a Commonwealth County ruling that would have allowed Beyer to be the Democratic candidate to represent the 131st Legislative District.

Beyer is surprised and disappointed by the ruling, according to Atty. Adam Bonin, his lawyer.

"The Commonwealth Court judge, who was a Republican, found Michael persuasive and credible," said Bonin. "It's disappointing that the Supreme Court came to a different conclusion without hearing from Michael Beyer."

Bonin said Beyer still could get on the May ballot as a write-in candidate.

"He needs 300 people to write-in his name and if he gets the highest number of Democrats to write him in, then he will be the Democratic nominee," said Bonin.

The Supreme Court order states that Beyer listed his current occupation as "lawyer" when he was a law school graduate "who had neither taken nor passed the bar and who was not presently engaged in working with the law in any way."

The court ruled: "Candidate's knowing and material representation cannot be characterized as the product of a good faith mistake."

It further stated: "Electors were material misled by the defect to the effect of potentially defeating their right to nominate on fair information."

The order indicated that "defects arising from good faith mistakes may be amendable" so they do not require striking a candidate's name from the ballot.

The Supreme Court's decision was not unanimous.  One of the court's seven judges, Justice Max Baer, filed a dissenting opinion.

Baer disagreed that Beyer "made a knowing and material misrepresentation warranting the striking of his name from the ballot."

Baer said the Commonwealth Court had made a "specific factual finding" that Beyer "had no intent to deceive the electorate by listing his occupation as lawyer "but rather believed that he was a lawyer because he had studied law and graduated from law school.

The 29-year-old Beyer hoped to run against incumbent Republican Justin Simmons in November.

The 131st District State House seat includes southern Lehigh County and part of Northampton County.

Beyer, who resides in Northampton County's Lower Saucon Township, is the son of former state Rep. Karen Beyer, a Republican who lost her House seat to Simmons in 2010.

Michael Beyer switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat to run against Simmons.

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