Pennsylvania is not a friendly state for third party candidates. Consider this statement from a Patriot News article:
Libertarians, Socialists and Constitution Party members who want to run for governor this year would have to collect about 67,000 signatures to have their names appear next to the Republican and Democratic candidates.
Democratic and Republican candidates need only collect 2,000 signatures.
(read the entire article here; via politicspa)
This is based on a mathematical formula. According to the Centre Daily:
To qualify for the ballot, independent candidates and minor-party nominees for statewide office must gather at least as many voters' signatures as 2 percent of the ballots cast for the largest vote-getter in the last statewide election race.
Because there was no statewide race last year, this year's threshold is based on the 2004 election, in which state Treasurer Bob Casey won nearly 3.4 million votes -- more than any candidate in the state's history.
Read the entire article here.
Third Party Watch also has some information here.
Of course, there were some other shenanigans going on when Ralph Nader ran for office in 2004 (details here).
It's not that I necessarily want the political landscape to be littered with Libertarians, Greens, and people like Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura, but a little variety would be nice. This is especially true in local elections where party affiliation may not be all that important and the two larger parties can't always field a candidate against an incumbent. Or, more importantly where one party has a lock on local politics and the voters have little choice but to go along with the powers that be. There's no harm in a few more Davids going up against a few more Goliaths in township and borough elections. Since these are often the pipelines for statewide office, it is even more difficult for third parties to break into the electoral system. It is hard enough to persuade qualified civic-minded people to wade into the political cesspool we have created. Let's not discourage any more would-be candidates than we have to.