Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton is continuing his bid to succeed state Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton.
Patton sought the Republican nomination in the 56th state Senate district, but was kicked off the primary ballot because he signed the re-election petition of state Rep. Katie Stuart, a Democrat. Signing petitions of another party is not allowed.
On Tuesday he announced he is seeking the office under a new party: Downstate United.
“My options for getting on the November ballot were narrowed, but my resolve has never been stronger,” Patton said. “In order to avoid any future legal challenges, my best option is to form a new party.”
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When Patton filed to run as a Republican, he turned in more than 1,600 signatures from voters to the Illinois State Board of Elections. He was required to turn in at least 1,000 signatures.
In order to make the ballot now, Patton would need at least 5,201 valid voter signatures collected between March 27 and June 27.
Patton said he has a goal of about 10,000 signatures. He wants to have more than the required amount to avoid any possible challenge.
Patton said anyone can sign his petitions, but anyone who circulated petitions to help a candidate get on the March 20 primary ballot is not allowed to circulate petitions for Patton.
He said he’ll be relying on volunteers to circulate petitions, but he may need to use paid circulators in order to meet his signature goal.
“It depends on how the non-paid goes. If we get down to the end and we have to pay people to go out and get them, we might have to do that. I don’t know for sure,” Patton said. “That’s not my goal. My goal is to energize, again, within the rules and restrictions. People who have circulated in the past primary cannot do that. It depends on how many volunteers I get.”
The 56th Senate district covers most of Madison County, including Alton, Wood River and Edwardsville, and stretches south to Interstate 64 to include parts of O’Fallon in St. Clair County, and a portion of Jersey County.
Patton was removed from the ballot prior to the March 20 primary election. Patton's campaign said House Speaker Michael Madigan’s personal attorney used an antiquated legal technicality and the Cook County court system to challenge his candidacy.
Patton said he has spent about $10,000 in legal fees fighting to stay on the ballot, which he says he’s been receiving donations to help cover the cost of, including some from the state Republican Party.
Local Republican leadership had the option of slating a candidate to run. However, Jeremy Plank, the chairman of the Madison County Republican Central Committee, said local party leadership will be backing Patton.
“He’s put a lot of work in as a Republican, and philosophically we’re still on the same page,” Plank said. “We still believe in him as a candidate and in him as the next state senator. We’re going to put as much effort into helping him as possible within the constraints of the law.”