Edwardsville, IL – It must have seemed like a good idea at the time to Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton, a Republican who crossed party lines last year to sign a nominating petition for state Representative Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville), a customer in his dental office.
Nothing like supporting the local folks, even from the other party.
But last week, Patton was at least temporarily kicked off the Republican March 20 primary ballot for the state Senate, when it had appeared he would easily become the party’s candidate to replace retiring Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) in the 56th Senate District.
It turns out that under Illinois law, candidates in one party can’t sign election petitions for the other party. Charles Yancey of Bethalto knew this, and in December he filed an objection to Patton’s candidacy.
“If you’re running as a Republican, you can’t be active in the Democratic Party’s primary,” noted Matt Dietrich, a spokesman for the State Board of Elections.
Madison County Assistant State’s Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe is the likely Democratic nominee, barring some other surprising development.
The first decision on Yancey’s complaint was from a State Board of Elections hearing officer who recommended removing Patton. That board voted 4-3 to do so, but it takes five votes, so Yancey took the case to court.
The objection was upheld by Cook County Circuit Judge Alfred Paul, who ruled Patton should be struck from the ballot. Late last week, Patton’s attorney Burt Odelson was filing for a stay in a Chicago appellate court, which could keep the mayor on the ballot pending another decision.
And do these things ever get complicated! Madison County Clerk Debra Ming-Mendoza on Friday was mailing about 50 primary ballots to members of the military, and they still included Patton’s name. She was up against a deadline and couldn’t wait for the appellate decision.
Ming-Mendoza included information with the mailed ballots explaining the issue and saying the voters could choose not to vote in the race, to vote for Patton in case he gets reinstated, to vote for a write-in candidate, or to request a new ballot when the matter is settled.