GOP legislative hopefuls sue state over slating ban

Four would-be state legislative candidates, including one from Northbrook, are suing Illinois officials over a new law forbidding political parties from slating candidates after primary elections.

The plaintiffs — all Republicans — also are seeking an emergency temporary restraining order to prevent enforcement of the law so they can appear on Nov. 5 ballots. The lawsuit names the Illinois State Board of Elections and state Attorney General Kwame Raoul as defendants.

Among the candidates who filed the lawsuit Friday in downstate Sangamon County circuit court — which serves Springfield — is Daniel Behr, a Northbrook Republican seeking the 57th state House District seat held by Democrat Tracy Katz Muhl, also of Northbrook.

Tracy Katz Muhl

“I want to give voters a choice for the November election,” said Behr, an economic development consultant who filed his candidate petitions minutes after Pritzker signed the bill.

The other plaintiffs are Carl Kunz of West suburban Hickory Hills, who’s seeking the 31st District state House seat held by Democrat Mary E. Flowers of Chicago; Leslie Collazo of Chicago, who wants to run for the 8th District state Senate seat held by Democrat La Shawn K. Ford of Chicago; and James Kirchner of Chicago, who’s after the 13th District state Senate seat held by Democrat Robert Peters of Chicago.

All four were chosen by Republican Party leaders to run in the general election before the new law was enacted. No Republicans ran in the primaries for those seats.

The legislation, fast-tracked earlier this month by the General Assembly and quickly signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, bars political parties from appointing a candidate to a legislative general election race if no one from that party ran for the seat in the primary election. The move protects candidates who won primary races, who often are incumbents.

The law is effective for the Nov. 5 general election. The lawsuit, to be heard by Judge Gail Noll, alleges the law violates the candidates’ right to vote “by restricting Plaintiffs’ efforts to gain access to the ballot by changing the rules in the middle of that process.”

The law only affects races for seats in the General Assembly and doesn’t prohibit post-primary slating for partisan federal, county or township races. Most of the General Assembly candidates who don’t have opponents in November are Democrats, so the state Republican Party stands to be hurt the most by the restriction.

Behr said legislators’ attempts to eliminate the candidacies of their potential challengers — but not those seeking other partisan political posts — is “a pretty cynical move.”

“People want to see more than one person on a ballot,” Behr said. “We’re supposed to be a democracy.”

Despite the law, the elections board has said it will accept petitions from slated candidates by a previously set June 3 deadline.

Board spokesman Matt Dietrich maintained that position in an email Monday.

“We will continue to follow filing deadlines and our established objection procedure unless a court order directs us otherwise,” he said.

If those petitions are challenged by an established June 10 deadline, the board — comprised of four Democrats and four Republicans — will hold hearings to consider the cases, likely on July 9, Dietrich has said.

A spokeswoman for Raoul said his office is reviewing the lawsuit and declined to comment further.

Daniel Behr, left, a Northbrook Republican seeking the 57th state House District seat held by Democrat Tracy Katz Muhl, also of Northbrook.

‘We are going to fight this’: Republican leaders slating legislative candidates despite new ban

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