Judge: Libertarian gubernatorial candidate can be on ballot

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SPRINGFIELD — A Sangamon County judge on Thursday rejected the Republican Party’s attempt to have a Libertarian candidate for Illinois governor struck from the Nov. 4 ballot.Judge Patrick Kelley denied GOP attorneys’ appeal of a State Board of Elections decision to allow Chad Grimm of Peoria on the ballot. His name will appear alongside those of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner.

The GOP attorneys had challenged the validity of the voter signatures gathered by several Libertarian petition circulators. Grimm, a fiscal conservative who advocates minimalist government, could draw votes that otherwise would go to Rauner in what’s expected to be a close race.

Kelley found that the evidence supported the board’s decision, noting that the court could overturn it “only if it finds the rulings are clearly erroneous.”

Illinois GOP attorney John Fogarty had argued that thousands of signatures were invalid because they were illegible, not genuine and because petition circulators didn’t reside at their stated addresses.

While approving the Libertarian’s candidacy, the board ruled that Green, Constitution and Independent party candidates should not be on the ballot because the parties gathered too few valid signatures. Democratic Party attorneys had challenged the validity of the signatures for the Green candidate, who could have taken votes away from Quinn.

Fogarty declined comment Thursday on whether attorneys would appeal. Illinois GOP spokesman Andrew Welhouse said the party would “continue to work in every part of Illinois to elect Bruce Rauner and Republicans up and down the ticket.”

KERRY LESTER, Associated Press

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