It’s official: Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham has once again been ordered off the ballot in the 11th Congressional District.
Cunningham was hoping to challenge Rep. Judy Biggert in the Republican primary election in the newly-drawn district. But the State Board of Elections on Monday found that two of his petition circulators were not present when signatures they collected were notarized, and declared all of those signatures invalid.
On Wednesday, a state appellate court upheld that ruling, and declared Cunningham ineligible for the March 20 election. This is the second time Cunningham has been removed from the ballot – in January, the State Board declared more than half of his signatures invalid due to a mistyped address on 31 petition sheets, but Cunningham challenged that ruling in court and won.
Biggert’s campaign appealed, and the court’s final decision leaves the 13th District congresswoman as the only valid candidate whose name will appear on the ballot. Republican Diane Harris of Joliet is running as a write-in candidate.
Cunningham said he may challenge the ruling, appealing to the Illinois Supreme Court, or he may decide to run as an independent candidate. He would have until June 25 to file for the November election as an independent.
Cunningham said Wednesday that although the court’s decision was based on the actions of two petition circulators and a notary, they were people he selected for his campaign, and he must take responsibility.
“I’m not happy with it, but it is what it is, and we can go from here,” he said.
Cunningham’s name will still appear on the ballots in the 11th District, since there isn’t time to remove it, but votes for him – both those cast on March 20 and those cast during early voting – will be suppressed. Officials at the State Board of Elections said it is up to each election authority in the district to decide how to inform voters of the situation.
Cunningham said he is still encouraging people to vote for him, and he still sees himself as an alternative to Biggert. He said he is “still optimistic.”
Biggert has pointed out the irony of a county clerk ordered off the ballot for failing to correctly file petitions. In an interview with Patch earlier this month, she said, “I think if you’re going to run, you need to follow the law in terms of filing petitions.”
The election is next Tuesday, March 20. Early voting is underway, and ends on Thursday, March 15. The appellate court's ruling is attached to this story.