SPRINGFIELD -- Longtime U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert now faces an uncontested primary election in March after the Illinois State Board of Elections kicked both of her opponents off the ballot.
The board voted unanimously Thursday to remove Diane Harris of Joliet from the March 20 primary ballot for not having the 600 valid petition signatures she needed to be a candidate in the 11th Congressional District.
The case of Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham was far more complex, requiring a lengthy argument between attorneys over whether his petitions were notarized correctly and whether a man who gathered petitions for Cunningham got his address wrong in the paperwork.
"This is a tough case," said board Chairman William McGuffage. "There's no doubt about it."
Eventually, though, Cunningham was removed via a 6-2 vote.
"It is what it is," Cunningham said. "If we made a mistake, we made a mistake, and we don't belong on the ballot. I ran for Congress in 1972, 40 years ago, and came in second. And I tried a few other times to keep the name out there, but I've waited 40 years. Heck, I can wait two more."
Elections board member Jesse Smart dissented, saying the confusing arguments in the case should have led the board in a different direction.
"If I'm going to err, I'm going to err on the side of the candidate," he said.
Both candidates have the option of appealing in court. The 11th District includes all or parts of North Aurora, Aurora, Montgomery, Boulder Hill, Naperville, Lisle, Woodridge Darien, Bolingbrook, Plainfield, Joliet, New Lenox, Darien, Burr Ridge and Hinsdale.
Biggert survived a challenger to her petitions comfortably, with the board voting 8-0 that she could run.
"All along we've maintained that our petition papers are fine," said campaign spokesman Brian Colgan. "Today the election commission confirmed this, certifying Congresswoman Biggert on the ballot. We're excited to have the opportunity to fight to represent the 11th District in Congress."
Three Democrats will compete for the nomination in the 11th District: Bill Foster of Naperville, Jim Hickey of Orland Park and Juan Thomas of Aurora.
Daily Herald Staff Writer James Fuller contributed.