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Rokita appeals primary elections ruling

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Rokita appeals primary elections ruling

Dec 10, 2023 | 4:59 pm ET
By Niki Kelly
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Rokita appeals primary ruling
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Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita wants the Indiana Supreme Court to take elections law case. (Whitney Downard/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita on Friday filed a notice of appeal, requesting the Indiana Supreme Court step in after a trial court judge last week found a state elections law unconstitutional.

“‘Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision,’” the court ruling from Marion County Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Dietrick reads, quoting Indiana-raised attorney and former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. “It is with this purpose in mind that the court renders its decision.”

John Rust, running to succeed U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, currently can’t appear on the Republican ballot because of a law prohibiting candidates whose last two primary votes don’t match the party they wish to represent.

Rust sued to gain access to the Republican ballot, saying the measure barred the vast majority of Hoosiers from running under their preferred party — an argument that seemed to sway the court.

His two most recent primary votes were Republican in 2016 and Democrat in 2012 — meaning he can’t appear on the Republican ballot for the 2024 May primary election. The law allows an exception, should the county’s party chair grant it. Jackson County Republican Party Chair Amanda Lowery elected not to do so in this case because of the two-primary rule, according to the filing.

Thursday’s ruling doesn’t guarantee Rust a spot on the Republican ballot — he must still gather 500 signatures from each of the state’s nine congressional districts — but means he cannot be denied from participating due to his voting history.

Court action will likely be swifter than usual with key election deadlines coming in January and February.

Third District Republican Rep. Jim Banks is currently the favorite to win the GOP nomination for Senate.