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Indiana county judge strikes down ‘unconstitutional’ voting law in favor of GOP Senate hopeful

An Indiana county judge ruled Thursday that a contested state law that sets voting requirements for a candidate's party affiliation is unconstitutional, handing a victory to a U.S. Senate candidate running as a Republican in the primary. .

A Marion County judge granted an injunction sought by John Last, former chairman of egg supplier Rose Acre Farms, who is running to replace U.S. Sen. Mike Braun. Rust filed a lawsuit in September against Secretary of State Diego Morales, the Indiana State Board of Elections and Jackson County Republican Party Chairwoman Amanda Lowery to challenge the law and ensure her chances of appearing on the ballot. woke up.

The law in question requires that a candidate's previous two primary elections be held by the candidate's political party or that the county party chair must approve the candidacy. Last argued in court documents that the law “is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad and should be repealed.”

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“This is a great victory for Indiana voters,” Rust said by phone Thursday night.

Marion County Superior Court building in Indianapolis. On Dec. 7, a judge in Marion County, Indiana, ruled that a contested state law that sets voting requirements for a candidate's party affiliation is unconstitutional, ruling that a U.S. Senate candidate seeking to run as a Republican in the primary election is unconstitutional. It brought victory to parliamentary candidates. (AP Photo/Arlie Rogers, File)

It was not immediately clear whether the Secretary of State would appeal the decision. The Associated Press emailed the office Thursday and left a message for the attorney.

Rust voted as a Republican in the 2016 primary, but as a Democrat in 2012, according to the complaint. He did not vote in the 2020 Republican primary, citing the pandemic and the lack of Republican competitiveness in Jackson County. Last said his Democratic votes were for people he knew personally.

Lowry, the county's Republican Party chairman, said in a July meeting with Last that he would not certify him, according to the complaint. Mr. Rust said Mr. Lowry later cited his primary voting record.

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Lowery said in a phone call that he believed party chairmen from both parties would be disappointed by the ruling, and questioned how candidacy would be determined without primary records. She expects the ruling to be appealed.

At a November hearing, Rust said the law prevents legitimate candidates who have recently moved to Indiana or switched political status from running.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Dietrick wrote in his ruling that the law “unreasonably burdens Hoosiers' long-recognized right to freely associate with the political party of their choice and to vote effectively.” It imposes.'' He also ordered the defendants to pay Mr. Rust's attorney fees.

Rust still faces a difficult challenge for the Republican nomination. U.S. Rep. Jim Banks was endorsed by the Indiana Republican Party and former President Donald Trump. Rust must also meet a signing quota for his nomination.

Rust, who plays a conservative gay man who brings an “outsider's voice” to Washington, D.C., is the former chairman of Rose Acre Farms, a family business in southern Indiana.Rose Acre Farms recognizes itself as the second largest egg producer in the United States

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The company was one of four major domestic egg producers accused of fixing egg prices in the 2000s. A jury in Illinois federal court recently ruled that the producers conspired to limit the nation's egg supply from 2004 to 2008 in order to raise prices, giving each company 1,7 He was ordered to pay $700,000 in damages.

The ruling intensified the Senate race. Congressman Banks accused Mr. Rust of being a “fraud masquerading as a Republican.” Rose Acre Farms denies any wrongdoing, and Rust said it would appeal the verdict.

Sen. Mike Braun is vacating his seat to run for governor.

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