SPRINGFIELD | Gov. Pat Quinn has dropped his bid to boot his opponent's running mate off the ballot, setting the stage for a full-fledged Democratic primary in March.
Attorneys for the Chicago Democrat notified the Illinois State Board of Elections late Wednesday they were abandoning their challenge of Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Brunell Donald.
Donald, a Chicago attorney, was set to run as community activist Tio Hardiman's running mate until a hearing officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections found she wasn't registered to vote at her current address.
Members of the state elections board were set to vote on her fate at a meeting Thursday until Quinn's lawyers ended their objections to Donald.
Attorney Burt Odelson, who has been paid at least $3,000 by Quinn since Nov. 1, did not immediately return messages left at his Chicago office.
But, in a memo to the state board, Odelson said continuing the fight could have led to a potentially expensive and prolonged legal fight.
The case against Donald had raised questions for the state's top election regulator because of a change in how Illinois conducts its voting for governor. Under current rules, the governor and lieutenant governor run as a team.
“If one or the other is stricken from the ballot, does the other one get to stay on the ballot?” asked Rupert Borgsmiller, executive director of the state Board of Elections.
Knowing that their decision could have set off a legal challenge to answer that question, it was not clear how board members would have voted.
“We fully anticipated a tough vote,” Borgsmiller said.
Donald said Thursday she was “ecstatic” the case had been dropped. She said the cloud of the pending case had hurt their ability to raise money. Records show Hardiman's campaign fund had about $550 in it, compared to the more than $4.5 million in Quinn's account.
“The campaign is going to keep moving forward,” Donald said. “This was a victory for the people today.”
The Democratic primary election for governor pits Quinn and lieutenant governor candidate Paul Vallas against Hardiman and Donald.