Supreme Court puts mayor back on Senate ballot

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BALLOT BRUHAHA: Rauner-boosting Republican Hal Patton (left) is fighting to keep his name on the Feb. 20 primary ballot for state senator in the 56th District. Democrat Rachele Aud Crowe, a worker-friendly candidate, is running unopposed.

Rauner-boosting Patton is on the ballot again

By CARL GREEN

Illinois Correspondent

Edwardsville, IL – Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton’s name is back on the Republican primary ballot in the 56th Senate District, which includes most of Madison County and much of St. Clair County.

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday actually ruled against Patton’s request for a direct appeal to the Supreme Court but also ordered a stay of the decision, which keeps Patton on the ballot. The case will now go to an appellate court, which could rule him ineligible.

Before the ruling, Patton was on the ballot in Madison County but off of it in St. Clair County. His wife Carrie had filed as a write-in candidate, just in case.

Patton, a supporter of Governor Bruce Rauner’s “turnaround” agenda that includes local “right-to-work” schemes, is the only Republican candidate to succeed Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton), who is not seeking re-election.

Democrats have a strong, Labor-supporting candidate in Madison County Assistant State’s Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe, who is unopposed in the Feb. 20 primary.

WRONG PETITION TO SIGN

Patton, Edwardsville’s mayor since 2013, gathered 1,600 signatures to be placed on the Republican ballot, with no opposition. But he erred in signing a nominating petition for a Democrat, State Representative Katie Stuart of Edwardsville, in her bid for re-election.

That’s considered illegal interference in the opposing party’s primary under Illinois law, and Charles Yancey of Bethalto filed an objection to the State Board of Elections. Stuart was a patient in Patton’s dental office.

A Board of Elections hearing officer ruled Patton should be removed from the ballot, but the board vote on it fell one short. Yancey then took the matter to a Cook County circuit court, which ruled against Patton and ordered him off the ballot.

TIME CRUNCH

Under a time crunch, Patton filed a direct appeal to the Supreme Court, seeking to bypass the appellate courts. His attorney, Burt Odelson, explained that the case would be appealed to the Supreme Court no matter how an appellate court would rule.

Madison County Clerk Debbie Ming-Mendoza, needing to send mail-in ballots to county residents serving in the military, left Patton’s name on those ballots and was awaiting a final court decision before removing him from the primary ballot.

St. Clair County was keeping Patton’s name off the ballot until a final decision could be made.

Further complicating matters, Carrie Patton filed as a write-in candidate in the Senate primary. She would need 1,000 votes to be placed on the general election ballot, as would any of the 33 other candidates who filed as write-ins.

THE DISTRICT

In St. Clair County, the 56th Senate District includes parts of Shiloh, O’Fallon, Swansea, Fairview Heights, Collinsville and Caseyville. Most Madison County residents are in the district, including all or parts of Edwardsville, Alton, Glen Carbon, Bethalto, Collinsville, Granite City and Wood River, among others.

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