Indiana Supreme Court denies Rust rehearing on Senate candidacy

By Whitney Downard | Indiana Capital Chronicle

The Indiana Supreme Court denied U.S. Senate candidate John Rust a rehearing in a case to determine his eligibility for the Republican primary ballot. Previously, the justices stayed a lower court ruling that booted Rust from the ballot.

Rust wants to challenge Congressman Jim Banks for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination but a state law requires a candidate’s two most recent primary votes align with their preferred party — a bar Rust doesn’t meet.

Rust voted Republican in 2016 and Democrat in 2012. 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.

He sued to gain access to the Republican ballot, saying the measure barred the vast majority of Hoosiers from running under their preferred party.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Dietrick found in Decemberthat the two-primary requirement is unconstitutional. But the state appealed, and the Indiana Supreme Court expedited the case as a matter of “significant public interest.”

Both the Indiana Supreme Court and Indiana Election Commission separately found him ineligible in February rulings. The commission cited the law, which the Supreme Court upheld in a ruling — prompting Rust to file for a rehearing.

Previously, Rust vowed to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court but ballots are already printed and early voting is currently underway for the May primary. Election Day is May 7.

Senior Reporter Casey Smith contributed to this story.