Give William T. Russell and "A" for effort, but an "F" for political savvy.
Russell, an Army lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq, moved to Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District with the intention of running against U.S. Rep. John Murtha, the boorish Democrat who frequently criticizes the U.S. military.
One slight problem with Russell's fledgling political career. Pennsylvania law requires a Congressional candidate to gather 1,000 valid signatures to have his or her name placed on the ballot. Russell turned in exactly 1,000 signatures. Anyone involved in politics will tell you that a candidate should gather twice as many signatures as he needs.)
Murtha, who has held the 12th District seat since 1974, filed a court challenge. A judge ruled Tuesday that at least 7 of Russell's signatures were not valid. That left the Republican challenger with 993 valid signatures and plenty of egg on his face.
That also leaves Murtha a clear shot another two-year term in Congress, where he will continue to insult U.S. soldiers, call for surrender in Iraq and continue wasteful spending.
Murtha, 75, was recently named "Porker of the Year" by a taxpayers group which singled Murtha out as the biggest abuser of pork spending in Congress.
Russell, 45, told The Associated Press that bad weather and "other factors made it difficult to collect enough signatures" in Murtha's heavily Democratic district around Johnstown, Pa.
Russell told the AP he doesn't have the money to appeal the judge's ruling or launch a write-in campaign, which would require him to get at least 1,000 votes in the April 22 Republican primary (and be the top vote-getter.)
While it's Russell's reputation on the line, you have to wonder where the Pennsylvania Republican Party and the the Republican National Committee were in this sorry mess.
Party leaders should have offered Russell all the help he needed to get on the ballot and run an effective campaign against an embarrassment like Murtha.