(HARRISBURG) – Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-34) today issued the following statement on filing the seat in the 45th Senate District:
“On Tuesday the Senate took the only responsible action we could regarding the uncertainty circulating around the race for the 45th Senatorial District which is currently the subject of a federal court case. Not only was it appropriate to do it was a requirement if you believe in the rule of law and the fact that we have three EQUAL branches of government.
“I talked with Governor Wolf, Minority Leader Costa, Lt. Governor Fetterman, and Senator Brewster in advance and told them what we planned. Most importantly I asked that we not have a repeat of them turning the chamber into a circus to score political points.
“The Senate Democrats were more interested in the political theatre and the sugar rush they get from a day of retweets and likes than they were in dealing with a serious issue. That was their decision and that is their right.
“As a caucus, we are committed to the rule of law. We believe that the Secretary of State acted outside her authority when she certified election results in two counties where certain deficient ballots were treated differently, with undated ballots counted in Allegheny but not counted in Westmoreland. This certification was contrary to her pre-election guidance, which she admitted sending, that stated that these deficient ballots ‘must be set aside, declared void and may not be counted’ – in likely recognition of the fact the Election Code states that the voter ‘shall…fill out, date and sign’ the declaration on the ballot. Four justices from the Democratic-leaning Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed that ‘shall’ in this context made the date a mandatory part of a completed and valid ballot under the Election Code, but because of a split decision in the Court, Justice Wecht’s position that these votes could be counted this time but not moving forward meant that this admittedly mandatory language in the Election Code was undermined.
“There should be no dispute that the Senate is the ultimate authority of the election and who meets the qualifications to be seated. That is constitutional and cannot be changed by any court of law or Twitter campaign. We have the power to put into place a process that would find facts and declare a lawful winner. But just because we have the power to do something doesn’t mean we should exercise it.
“As a caucus we believe that we have a duty to restore confidence in the election process. Throughout the ongoing dispute nationally we have asked for people with election concerns to address them through the courts. We will hold ourselves to the same standard in this case.
“It is our plan to let the election case in front of the federal district court play out and ultimately seat whoever is successful in that process as long as the findings from the court are to the merit of the challenge and the validity of the disputed ballots and not based on the lack of jurisdiction of the federal courts. If the federal court rules, as we believe, that the ballots should not count then we will seat Mrs. Ziccarelli immediately and if they rule ballots should count we will seat Senator Brewster immediately. A subsequent appeal will not delay that seating, although it could result in further action in the future if the district court decision is not upheld.
“What the last few days have shown us is that it’s our responsibility to restore confidence in the institutions such as the Senate. This isn’t accomplished by political theatre meant to appeal to base politics or people on Twitter.”