Challenge to John Kasich on Pennsylvania ballot dropped

Story highlights

  • At issue was whether Kasich had filed the requisite number of valid signatures to get onto the Pennsylvania Republican primary ballot
  • The student and Rubio supporter behind the effort dropped his efforts to challenge Kasich

Villanova, Pennsylvania (CNN)The ballot challenge in Pennsylvania that threatened to derail John Kasich's rising presidential campaign has been dropped.

Nathaniel Rome, the chairman of Pennsylvania Students for Rubio and a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, has decided to drop the challenge to Kasich's standing on the ballot, according to Chris Bravacos, Marco Rubio's Pennsylvania state chairman and the brother of the lawyer representing Rome in the case.
    The decision to drop the challenge was first reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
    At issue was whether Kasich had filed the requisite number of valid signatures to get onto the Pennsylvania Republican primary ballot. Rome contended Kasich submitted more than 800 invalid signatures in the 2,184 submitted by the Ohio governor's presidential campaign. The Pennsylvania secretary of state certified Kasich's signatures, placing him on the ballot. But shortly after the deadline for challenges, Rome submitted his petition.
    Kasich's lawyers, at a hearing on Rome's challenge, actually conceded that 192 signatures were, in fact, not valid. But the missed deadline for the petition -- by 13 minutes -- served as the backbone of their argument that the challenge should be thrown out. Kasich's campaign repeatedly said it was "100% certain" that Kasich would remain on the ballot and accused Rubio's campaign of masterminding the effort to get him kicked off.
    While Kasich's team publicly assured anyone who asked the ballot issue wasn't a problem for Kasich, it was no small thing. While he pinned the future of his campaign on winning Ohio's primary Tuesday, Pennsylvania's April 26 primary -- and the 71 delegates it holds -- is central to his campaign's future plans now that he has defeated front-runner Donald Trump in his home state. Despite more than a month of separation between the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries, the state was Kasich's first post-Ohio stop Wednesday.
    "You talk to people in Pennsylvania and they'll tell you that I can win a general election," Kasich told reporters after a town hall on the campus of the Villanova University.
    On the campaign trail Kasich often speaks of his blue collar upbringing in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh.
    Despite his backing of Rubio and his close ties to a ballot challenge that would have crippled Kasich in the state, Bravacos said he has already heard from Kasich's camp about joining their team in the state.
    "They have reached out, but considering Marco just suspended his campaign last night, it's a bit early for a lot of people," Bravacos said. "Marco is a special person who inspired hundreds of volunteers."