Jay Paterno is dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor amid a challenge over the validity of signatures on his nominating papers, his campaign announced Friday. In a statement, Paterno said his decision stems from a challenge being waged by a competitor, Brad Koplinski, who contends that Paterno did not secure the required 1,000 signatures to appear on the ballot in the May 20 primary. A hearing is scheduled for Monday in Harrisburg before the state Commonwealth Court. Paterno said he discussed the ballot challenge with lawyers, and it became clear to him the issue could extend beyond the hearing. “With less than two months remaining before the primary, I do not want an ongoing legal back-and-forth to be a distraction in this race,” Paterno said. “The outcome of this election is too important for the future of the working families and all the people of this commonwealth.” The deadline for candidates to withdraw from the race was Wednesday, so Paterno would now have to file paperwork before the Commonwealth Court. Koplinski, a Harrisburg city councilman, said Paterno's decisions was in the “best interest of the Democratic party.” “Mr. Paterno was a first-time candidate who joined the race late and who, despite his best effort, was unable to meet the sometimes confusing requirements necessary to be certified,” Koplinski said in a statement. “I hope this experience doesn't discourage him from seeking another elected office in the future because I am confident that he has a bright future in the Democratic party.” Paterno was one of six candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in the primary to face off against incumbent Jim Cawley, a Republican, in the fall. In addition to Koplinski, the Democratic slate for the lieutenant governor nomination consists of former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, of Johnstown; Brandon Neuman, a state representative from Washington County; Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith; and state Sen. Mike Stack, of Philadelphia. Paterno was an assistant coach under his father Joe Paterno, who was fired in November 2011. The son wasn't retained by subsequent head coach Bill O'Brien.