Rust faces issue getting name on ballot

A Seymour man who announced his candidacy this past week for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat up for grabs in 2024 has an issue when it comes to getting his name on the GOP ballot early next year.

Under state law, a candidate — in this case 56-year-old John Rust — can only run under a political party if during the two most recent primary elections, they voted as a member of that party or the party chairperson signs off on their candidacy, Jackson County Republican Party Chairwoman Amanda Lowery said.

Indiana Third District U.S. Rep. Jim Banks already has announced his candidacy for the Senate seat being vacated by current Indiana Sen. Mike Braun of Jasper. Braun, a Republican, plans to run for governor in 2024 as current Gov. Eric Holcomb finishes up his second four-year term. The governor is limited to two terms.

Lowery said Monday that although Rust contends he is a conservative Republican, his primary voting record doesn’t support that contention.

“That’s exactly why Indiana legislators changed the law to require the two most recent primary votes,” she said. “He had two opportunities to vote in a Republican primary after 2016, and he didn’t. If he had done that, there would be no issue.”

Lowery said it’s unfortunate he didn’t do so.

“John’s a great guy,” she said. “His family does great things for Jackson County.”

Rust is a farmer and president of the board of Rose Acre Farms, which has its headquarters in Seymour.

Lowery said when Rust recently met with the Jackson County GOP leadership, including herself, Sheriff Rick Meyer, who is vice chairman, and county Auditor Kate Kaufman, who is secretary, they just didn’t brush him off.

“He has an interesting perspective he brings to the table,” she said. “We welcomed him into the local party (prior to that meeting). None of us had met him, and we encouraged him to participate.”

She said in this case, he just doesn’t qualify.

“We’re just not being mean. We’re following the law,” Lowery said.

Rust said Monday morning that his campaign is exploring the regulations and how they work.

“There are different viewpoints, but we believe I will be on the ballot or I wouldn’t be spending this kind of money,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot.”

As far as his primary voting record goes, Rust said he did vote often as a Democrat in primary elections because he often knew the candidates and many were farmers who know what is needed in an agricultural community.

When it comes to state and federal elections in the general elections, he voted for Republicans and has often donated to their campaigns, he said.

“I have never given a penny to the Democrats,” he said.

Rust said besides getting on the ballot, he is confident he can win because people are looking for an outsider and not someone trying to protect their job in Washington, D.C., and doing things as they have always been done.

He said he thinks people are 100% tired of politics as is, which is why he believes he will be successful.

“It’s something I really feel passionate about,” Rust said.

He said the Republican Party is afraid of him because they can’t control him.

Lowery said she is very clear on her position, and there is nothing Rust can do between now and January when the filing period begins to convince her to sign off on his candidacy.