Hardiman ticket will be on March primary ballot after Quinn drops state petition challenge

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SPRINGFIELD-Democrats Tio Hardiman and running mate Brunell Donald can participate in the March 18 gubernatorial primary after a lawyer for Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday unexpectedly dropped efforts to keep the governor’s rivals off the ballot.

“This is a victory for all the working-class people and the unions in Illinois,” Hardiman said Thursday.

Quinn had objected to the nominating petitions that Hardiman, former director of CeaseFire Illinois, and Donald had filed in December with the State Board of Elections.

“With the withdrawal of the objection, it’s finished. It’s over,” Rupert Borgsmiller, executive director for the State Board of Elections, told the Chicago Sun-Times, referring to the final legal impediment that could have kept Hardiman and Donald off the March 18 Democratic ballot.

Earlier in the week, a hearing officer for the state board ruled that Hardiman, an anti-violence activist, had sufficiently gathered the signatures of at least 5,000 registered voters to be on the primary ballot, setting aside one objection brought by Odelson.

But that officer sided with Odelson in ruling that Donald, a Chicago lawyer, was not a qualified primary voter and thus did not belong on the ballot with Hardiman.

The State Board of Election’s top lawyer, however, disagreed on the question involving Donald’s qualifications, which the board was expected to deliberate Thursday until Odelson dropped the governor’s challenges unexpectedly.

“Now we can move forward in the primary and make history in the state of Illinois by winning the primary. Also, it shows my running mate told the truth every step of the way in regard to her residence, and she’s definitely a qualified primary voter,” Hardiman said.

Part of the Quinn camp’s calculus in ending the fight against a contested Democratic gubernatorial primary was rooted in campaign-disclosure reports that Hardiman filed late Wednesday, showing he had a mere $553 in his political fund.

That balance as of December 31 might be enough to buy a flat-screen television but certainly not enough to fund a barrage of campaign commercials or polling that typically would be necessary to take out a sitting Democratic governor in a primary.

“Would I have won when I went forward? Yes,” Odelson told the Sun-Times. “Would they have been removed from the ballot? Yes. But we didn’t want to have to expend any more money on a process against a guy who has $500.”

But Hardiman rejected any argument that his nearly-empty campaign fund would hurt his chances against Quinn, who Wednesday reported a year-end balance of $4.5 million in his fund.

“This race isn’t about who has the most money in their campaign war chest,” Hardiman told the Sun-Times. “This race is between the haves and have-nots. I have boots on the ground. Sometimes you don’t need a lot of money when you have a lot of people supporting you” across the state.

Late Wednesday, Hardiman reported raising $15,485 during the final three months of 2013, of which $13,068 came from personal loans he made to this campaign. He spent $16,438, including $5,000 in consulting fees to former state Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago.

Quinn, meanwhile, raised $1.88 million during the reporting period, with a string of six-figure donations from several trade union committees.

His largest contribution came from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which gave the governor $150,000. Donations of $100,000 apiece came from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Political Action Together fund, the Laborers Political League Education Fund and the United Association Political Education Fund.

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