Courts leave ‘right-to-work’ Edwardsville mayor off Senate ballot

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Republican Hal Patton remained officially off the Illinois Senate ballot during the March primaries, leaving Democratic candidate Madison County Assistant State’s Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe unopposed for now. The Republican Party may appoint a candidate for the general election.

By CARL GREEN

Illinois Correspondent

Edwardsville, IL – Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton remained officially off the ballot as the March 20 Republican primary came and went following an appellate court decision supporting an earlier court ruling striking him from the ballot for the state Senate.

That leaves the Democratic candidate, Madison County Assistant State’s Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe, unopposed for now. The Republican Party may appoint a candidate for the general election, but not Patton, according to the State Board of Elections. He could potentially run as a third-party candidate.

Patton said he would take his case to the Illinois Supreme Court, but that court announced it would not take up the case.

Patton, a dentist, has been known beyond Edwardsville for being one of the few city officials to try to act on Governor Bruce Rauner’s phony, anti-worker local “right-to-work” scheme. That attempt, a resolution supporting Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda,” was slapped down on a 5-2 City Council vote before a standing-room crowd of union members and supporters in 2015. The “agenda” was intended to create “right-to-work” zones, eliminate prevailing wages and rewrite workers’ compensation laws.

Patton was set to be the party’s candidate to replace the retiring Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) in the 56th Senate District, which is in Madison County and parts of St. Clair and Jersey counties. But a sharp-eyed resident noticed Patton had violated a state law by running as a Republican after signing nominating papers for a Democrat, in this case Representative Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville), who is seeking a second term.

PURPOSE OF THE LAW

The law, Section 8-8 of the Election Code, is meant to keep representatives from one party from interfering in other parties’ primaries. Patton had signed for Stuart when she was in his office for a dental appointment.

The objection was taken before a Cook County circuit judge, who ruled Patton ineligible for the primary. Patton took the case to a three-judge panel of the First District Appellate Court in Chicago, which ruled against him on March 9. He then tried to get a hearing before the Illinois Supreme Court, which announced March 13 it would not take up the case.

The appellate ruling was that Patton had made himself a Democrat for this election. It stated: “At the time Patton signed his statement of candidacy, he was not a qualified primary elector of the Republican Party because he had already signed a nominating petition for a Democratic candidate.”

Patton said he will keep trying to get on the November ballot. His name was expected to appear on some primary ballots, but votes for him were not being counted.

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