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Cunningham foes appeal to keep him off ballot in 11th Congressional District

Published: Friday, Feb. 24, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

Those seeking to keep Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham off the ballot have asked a state appeals court to overturn a circuit court ruling placing Cunningham’s name back on the ballot in a local race for Congress.

John Fogarty, a lawyer representing two Aurora men objecting to Cunningham’s candidacy, said he had filed a notice to appeal with the Illinois First Appellate District in Cook County, asking the appeals court to review the lower court decision that would allow Cunningham to renew his campaign to win the Republican nomination in the race for the 11th Congressional District seat.

“We think the circuit court got this one wrong,” Fogarty said.

Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge Susan Fox Gillis ruled Tuesday that the Illinois State Board of Elections had erred in how it applied election rules when reviewing signatures on petitions collected by representatives of Cunningham’s campaign.

The ruling, if allowed to stand, would place Cunningham’s name back on the ballot in the primary race against U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert.

Cunningham’s name had been ordered removed from the ballot after state elections officials upheld the challenge, argued by Fogarty and backed by the Biggert campaign.

The state board found that those circulating petitions for Cunningham had made mistakes in entering the address of at least one circulator and in notarizing other petitions.

Fogarty said he asked the appellate court to hold to the state board’s standards, as he has argued in his appeal that the circuit judge “misconstrued” various aspects of the law pertaining to how the circulations must be completed and submitted.

The congressional district in which they are running includes the city of Aurora and the village of North Aurora in Kane County, as well as the cities of Naperville, Joliet, Bolingbrook and Lisle.

The winner of the Republican Party nomination would advance to face the winner of the Democratic Party primary, in which former U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, formerly of Batavia and now of Naperville, is running against James Hickey of Orland Park and Juan Thomas of Aurora.

The primary election will be on March 20.

However, early voting in the race begins Monday.

Fogarty said he has asked the appeals court to accelerate its review, so that a decision can be reached perhaps as soon as the end of next week.

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