It's not easy being the Green Party in the state of Illinois
by John Presta
Chicago City Hall Examiner
December 23, 2011
Lambert Schmidt ran for Congress as a candidate for the Illinois Green
Party (ILGP) in the 3rd Congressional district in 2010 and made a
respectable showing, garnering 6% of the vote. Schmidt was excited at
the chance to run again in 2012.
The Illinois Green Party (ILGP)
is a so-called third party.Laurel Lambert Schmidt will be traveling to
Springfield (Illinois) on Tuesday, December 27th to file her 1315
petitions that she and about a dozen volunteers collected in the 3rd
Congressional District to run again in the 2012 election in the same
district, now redrawn. She only needed 600 petitions to be placed on the
ballot as a member of the ILGP.
However, The Illinois Board of
Election (ISBE) will likely not accept her petitions as an Illinois
Green Party candidate this time, because the IBSE no longer recognizes
the ILGP as an "established political party." For Schmidt to gain ballot
access for the 3rd Congressional district, she would now need 5000
ISBE ruled that in this election year of 2012, ILGP is not an "established political party."
Chairman, Phil Huckleberry decided to file a lawsuit against the ISBE.
Election Attorney Andrew Finko is handling the lawsuit on behalf of the
ILGP. The lawsuit involves all other candidates that received at least
5% of the vote in other areas of Illinois. The initial lawsuit was filed
in October and the case is about ballot access and the issue of an
"established political party."
The Board's argument is that since
the old districts no longer exist due to decennial redistricting, the 5
percent rule does not apply in the new districts.
situation demonstrates the absurdity of the Board's position," said Phil
Huckelberry, Illinois Green Party chairman.
As an established
party candidate, Schmidt would need to submit a petition in December
with valid signatures from 600 registered voters in the district, and
would then be on the March primary ballot.
Non-established or "new" party candidates would have to file 5,000 signatures in June.
advantages for established party candidates are substantial, " said
Huckelberry. "Forums and debates are often set up by June, and a number
of organizations will have already issued endorsements based on who is
already on the ballot."
The lawsuit filed by the ILGP is on
behalf of candidate Laurel Lambert Schmidt for Congress in the 3rd
Congressional District in 2010 against the ISBE. During that election
Schmidt ran against Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-3) and
Republican candidate Michael A. Bendas. The lawsuit also includes other
Green party candidates that received at least 5% of the vote in their
In Illinois, an "established political party" is
defined as a party that receives at least 5% of the vote in the
preceding election. So does the fact that a Congressional district is
redrawn, does that change the words "preceding election." The ISBE has
decided that the fact the districts were redrawn, it changes the
criteria for an "established political party."
The ILGP had lost
its first case in Cook County Circuit Court before Circuit Judge Edmund
Ponce de Leon, who is also the Presiding Judge for the 4th Municipal
District. The court cited the precedent of Vestrup v. DuPage County
Election Commission, which was a 2002 case involving a Libertarian Party
The Illinois Green Party (ILGP) suffered another
setback on Thursday in their bid to gain "ballot access" for several of
its candidates statewide in Illinois. The First Judicial District
Illinois Appellate Court (5th Division) ruled the Green Party cannot be
on the March primary ballot in Illinois. The order to affirm an earlier
lower court ruling was signed by Appellate Court Justices James R.
Epstein, Joseph Gordon, Margaret Stanton McBride, and Nathaniel R. Howse
What is necessary for a party to be recognized as an
"established political party." To be an "established political party" in
Illinois, the party in question would have had to receive at least 5%
of the vote in the last general election. Rich Whitney, who was the
statewide candidate for governor in 2010, did not receive at least 5% of
the vote. Had Whitney received 5% of the statewide vote in the 2010
election, the entire party would have been recognized statewide and
there would be no issue or lawsuit.
The rationale the ISBE gave
for that ruling is that the ILGP ceased to exist due to geographic
boundary changes due to redistricting. That since the 3rd Congressional
district (as an example) has changed, Laurel Lambert Schmidt, according
to the court, did not receive 6% of the vote in the same district.
question is why does redistricting negate the ILGP access to the
ballot. The law is clear on what constitutes an "established political
Is it undue party influence over the judiciary at play
here? Is it understood by the judges that this is the way you rule. ILGP
Attorney Andrew Finko makes that convincing argument.
asked for an expedited appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. The First
Judicial Circuit issued an order Thursday affriming Judge Ponce de
Leon's ruling, but also allowing an accelerated appeal to the Illinois
Supreme Court. The case will be appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court
and ILGP attorney, Andrew Finko, assumes the court will hear the matter.
Attorney Finko does not feel that he can get a fair hearing on the
matter here in Illinois. Finko says, "The case is very politically
motivated, and indirectly raises the issue. Can a third party ever get a
fair day in a bi-partisan court?"
Ironically, Andrew Finko
quotes former Cook County Cicuit Court Clerk and currently an Applelate
Court Judge, Aurelia Pucinski (who is a candidate for the Illinois
Supreme Court), who "made the argument (unsuccessfully) to the
Democratic slate makers that judges should not be affiliated with party,
but independently nominated. I agree."
Andrew Finko is adamant
about the cozy relationship between the court and the Democratic Party.
"In Cook County, all the trial court and appellate court judges are
Democrats and owe their jobs to the Democratic party that endorsed,
promoted, and made it possible for them to be elected. Outsiders do not
get elected to judge," said Finko.
He added, "Regardless of the
appearances, they all have an inherent, non-waivable conflict of
interest when presiding over political cases. Whether directly and/or
indirectly, they all want to help their team and keep their good
relations with the party that gave them their jobs."
He adds that
the Vestrup v. DuPage County Election Commission was a DuPage County
case and the judges there are Republican. Same rationale applies in
DuPage County, he adds. Different parties, same self-interest.
Andrew Finko is becoming disillusioned with the court system,
especially when it comes to political cases. "They just rubber stamp the
The essential question that Andrew Finko asks
is this. "How can a third party get any justice in a bi-partisan court."
He adds, "Not in this country."
is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA
National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The
Elevator Group: Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore
Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon.