The Illinois Green Party, and congressional candidate Laurel Lambert Schmidt, on Monday filed suit against the State Board of Elections over the Board’s interpretation of the “established party” statute. A victory for the plaintiffs would substantially lower ballot access bars for Green candidates in numerous congressional and legislative districts across the state, which would allow for many more Greens to run for office in 2012.
The case, Schmidt v. State Board of Elections, was filed in Cook County Circuit Court (11-CH-36783). The complaint charges that the Board erred in determining that the Green Party does not retain established party status in areas of the state where Green candidates exceeded 5% of the vote in 2010. Four congressional candidates and six legislative candidates reached that level, including Schmidt, whose 10,028 votes in the old 3rd Congressional District earned her just over 6% of the vote.
The Board’s argument is that since the old districts no longer exist due to decennial redistricting, the 5% rule does not apply in the new districts.
“Laurel’s situation demonstrates the absurdity of the Board’s position,” said Phil Huckelberry, Illinois Green Party Chair.
As an established party candidate, Schmidt would need to submit a petition in December with valid signatures from 600 registered voters in the district, and would then be on the March primary ballot. Non-established or “new” party candidates would have to file 5,000 signatures in June.
“The advantages for established party candidates are substantial,” said Huckelberry. “Forums and debates are often set up by June, and a number of organizations will have already issued endorsements based on who is already on the ballot.”
Schmidt is running for the second time against Dan Lipinski, a relatively unpopular Democrat who was the latest recipient of what Huckelberry called “Mike Madigan’s sugarplum gerrymandering.” Schmidt’s own residence was drawn mere blocks outside of the district, but she is prepared to move back across the line to serve the district in Congress.
“I’ve been an active member of this community for 27 years. Dan Lipinski moved into Illinois and the district after he was handed a spot on the ballot that his dad had won in the primary. Now, every rule and every line are bent in Dan Lipinski’s favor,” said Schmidt, who labeled Lipinski as a “socially conservative, blue dog hawk.”
“The people of the 3rd District deserve a choice. As the first Green in Congress I will work for and be a voice for peace, people, and planet over short-term profits. The two-party system and its control by corporate cash is destroying the 99% – that’s us.”
Schmidt is not the only candidate who will be affected by the ruling, said Huckelberry. “We have interested people who are looking for some resolution on this issue before jumping in.”
Illinois Green Party: www.ilgp.org
Laurel Lambert Schmidt for Congress: www.laurel4congress.org