Indiana justices, elections board kick GOP US Senate candidate off primary ballot - Hindustan Times

Indiana justices, elections board kick GOP US Senate candidate off primary ballot

AP |
Feb 28, 2024 03:22 AM IST

Indiana justices, elections board kick GOP US Senate candidate off primary ballot

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The bipartisan Indiana Election Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to remove one of two Republican U.S. Senate candidates from the primary ballot, and the state Supreme Court rejected his legal challenge to the law barring his candidacy.

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The decision to remove John Rust from the ballot leaves U.S. Rep. Jim Banks as the only GOP candidate for the seat.

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Rust had sued state officials over Indiana's law requiring that candidates must have voted in their party's past two primaries or received the approval of a county party chair in order to appear on the primary ballot.

Rust voted as a Republican in the 2016 primary but as a Democrat in 2012. He said he didn’t vote in the 2020 Republican primary due to the pandemic and the lack of competitive Republican races in Jackson County, and that his votes for Democrats were for people he personally knew.

The county’s Republican Party chair said in a July meeting with Rust that she would not certify him, according to the lawsuit. Rust has said she later cited his primary voting record.

The Election Commission — composed of two Republicans and two Democrats all appointed by the governor — voted unanimously to accept the challenges and remove Rust from the ballot.

“The affiliation statute applies to Mr. Rust just like it applies to all other candidates in the state,” Ryan Shouse, an attorney representing five of the six individuals challenging Rust’s candidacy, told the commission.

Michelle Harter, Rust's attorney, argued that Rust did not take steps to ensure his place on the ballot because the affiliation statue was blocked by the lower court during the candidate filing period.

“I don’t see how we can get around the Indiana Supreme Court," said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a Democratic commission member, in reference to its original stay.

Rust told reporters that he plans to appeal the Indiana Supreme Court's decision up to the United State Supreme Court. He said the Republican Party is trying to keep him off the ballot “because I'm not under their control.”

The state GOP and former President Donald Trump have endorsed Banks in the Senate race. According to campaign finance records, Rust has mainly bankrolled his own campaign, giving it $2.5 million last year.

Banks ended the year with more than $3 million in cash on hand, according to records. Banks is running to replace U.S. Senator Mike Braun, who is vacating the seat to run for governor.

Two candidates, Marc Carmichael and Valerie McCray, are running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat, according to Secretary of State records.

In a written statement, Banks said the commission's decision does not change anything for him or his campaign, and he will continue to work until Nov. 5 to “be Indiana's next conservative Republican Senator.”

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