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Egg farmer John Rust sues to get on Indiana U.S. Senate primary ballot

By Brandon Smith, IPB News | Published on in Government, Law, Politics
Southern Indiana egg farmer John Rust is suing to get on the ballot for the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. (Screenshot of Rust campaign ad)

A southern Indiana egg farmer is suing to get on the Republican primary ballot for U.S. Senate.

John Rust is challenging a state law that requires either a primary voting record or local political party chair permission to run.

There are two ways a candidate can run as a Republican or Democrat in an Indiana primary. They must have voted in that party’s primary in the last two primary elections in which they cast a ballot; or, they have to get the permission of the county party leader where they live.

John Rust said he’s a lifelong Republican. But he’s sometimes voted in Democratic primaries — to support people he knows, he said — and doesn’t meet that two-primary rule. And his local party chair refuses to allow him to run against Congressman Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) in next year’s GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

READ MORE: Indiana’s two-primary rule for partisan affiliation stands as state Supreme Court declines appeal

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There have been a couple recent lawsuits over this same ballot restriction. But those both failed because the elections had long since passed.

Rust said the Indiana law controlling ballot access is unconstitutional — and he argued there’s enough time to get him on the ballot next year.

Even if Rust makes it onto the ballot, Banks is the presumptive GOP nominee. He has the support of both the Indiana Republican Party and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, as well as endorsements from numerous Republican leaders across the state.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.