Lake County judge to rule on Rudd's election fate in one week
The decision on whether Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd's name can appear on the November ballot as an independent candidate will be announced in the next week.
But Rudd said after Thursday's 45-minute hearing in front of Lake County Judge Diane Winter that he plans to run as a write-in candidate if he's tossed off the ballot.
"The people of Lake County will still be able to vote for me in November," Rudd said outside the courtroom. "If I do not win this case in court, I will do a write-in campaign in the general election."
He also said he will take the case to the state appellate court or the Illinois Supreme Court, if needed, if Winter does not rule in his favor.
Rudd's election campaign was thrown into limbo in July after a Lake County Electoral Board removed his name from the November ballot. The three-member panel ruled Rudd could not run as an independent because he filed to run as a Democrat in the March primary, then withdrew his candidacy in December.
Rudd, a first-term incumbent from Lake Forest, withdrew from the coroner's race and as a Democratic precinct committeeman after his nominating petitions were challenged. He said at the time he would not have enough signatures on the petitions should the objections be upheld.
In June, he filed nominating petitions to run as an independent in the general election. Democratic coroner candidate Michael P. Donnenwirth and Waukegan resident Keith E. Turner filed objections to those petitions, claiming Rudd could not run as an independent in the same election cycle in which he filed as a Democrat.
Rudd's court challenge alleges the electoral board violated his rights under the U.S. and Illinois constitutions by removing his name from November's ballot.
But attorney Burton S. Odelson, who is representing Donnenwirth and Turner, said in court the law is clear that Rudd cannot file to run as a Democrat, then as an independent in the same election cycle.
"He was clearly affiliated with the Democratic Party for the purpose of his candidacy," Odelson said. "Once you declare your affiliation, you cannot switch parties between the primary and general election cycle."
Winter said she would provide a written ruling in the next week, or announce her decision orally Aug. 18.