Will Brian Sims Fight Off Two Ballot Challenges?

Two groups of people filed paperwork to try to knock the incumbent off the ballot. Both have ties to Sims' opponents.

State Rep. Brian Sims

State Rep. Brian Sims

When state Rep. Brian Sims dropped out of the 2nd Congressional District race last week, some political observers speculated that it meant he would have a smoother reelection campaign ahead.

Perhaps the race won’t be as uneventful as some thought, though. On Tuesday, Sims’ nominating petitions were challenged by two separate groups of people. Attorney Charles Gibbs filed one challenge on behalf of Walter Spencer and Sunanda Ghosh. Lawyer Lawrence Otter filed another on behalf of Michael Connor and Allison Andrew.

To get on the primary ballot, a candidate for the state House must file at least 300 valid signatures on their nominating petitions.

Realtor Lou Lanni, a Democrat challenging Sims in the 182nd District race, said Connor is his domestic partner. Lanni said he filed a challenge against Sims because “there were many, many out-of-district signatures” and “many, many signatures that aren’t registered as Democrats” on his ballot petitions. Connor and Allison also challenged the nominating petitions for attorney Marni Snyder, another candidate in the 182nd race.

Sims did not respond to a request for comment. His lawyer, Adam Bonin, said he would not comment on the challenges until he saw them.

Spencer, meanwhile, donated $1,000 in November to Ben Waxman, who is also running in the 182nd race. Spencer referred questions about the challenge to Gibbs, who did not respond to a request for comment. Waxman declined to comment.

Ballot challenges are a routine part of the election season. Other Philly Democrats facing challenges this year include state Rep. Jason Dawkins, former state Rep. James Clay, Jr. and attorney Jared Solomon. (You can read the full list here.) But the fact that Sims’ nominating petitions are being challenged shows that the 182nd District race is still on despite Sims’ recent decision to drop out of the Congressional contest — and at least one of Sims’ opponents thinks he can be knocked off the ballot.

There’s some history here that also makes this ballot challenge worth watching. Sims first took office after beating longtime incumbent state Rep. Babette Josephs in the 2012 election. In 2014, she tried to challenge Sims for a rematch. But alas, she was kicked off the ballot when a judge found that she didn’t have the needed 300 valid signatures.