SPRINGFIELD — A four-candidate Democratic primary election in the 13th Congressional District is now probably down to three.
Bloomington Democrat Bill Byrnes, who jumped into the race last month, admitted Wednesday that he didn't collect enough petition signatures to get on the ballot.
Donald Necessary, also of Bloomington, has filed an objection to Byrnes' petitions with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Byrnes said he "probably turned in a little under 200" signatures on petitions.
He said he needed 730 petition signatures to qualify as a candidate in the congressional district that spans from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Edwardsville and Collinsville on the southwest.
No objections were filed against the petitions of any of the other candidates in the 13th District: Democrats Ann Callis of Edwardsville and George Gollin and David Green of Champaign, and Republicans Rodney Davis of Taylorville and Erika Harold of Urbana.
Davis is the incumbent, serving his first term.
"I did everything I can do," said Byrnes, a 66-year-old part-time school-bus driver. "The bright spot for me is that they must be worried about me if they're trying to knock me off the ballot.
"I'm not surprised, but I am a little disappointed. I feel like I had a good message, but this isn't the first time that something like this has happened."
In fact, official objections have been filed to the petitions of 121 candidates, including those of both Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls, Tio Hardiman of Chicago and Gov. Pat Quinn, and several U.S. Senate, congressional and state legislative candidates.
Byrnes said Wednesday that a hearing on the objections has been set for Tuesday.
"I'd love it if I could get into their heads," Byrnes said of the elections board members, "and say, 'Hey, leave the guy on.' I mean, that's the essence of the Democratic Party, isn't it? To have a plurality of views."
Byrnes said he, his wife and "a few other friends" passed petitions for his candidacy.
"I got most of them myself, with my wife. I think we had a great diversity on there," he said. "I got most of them at an FS fast stop gas station near my house. I went in and spoke with them and the man said, 'Sure, I like your message.' I camped out there one weekend and got two full sheets of petitions. It was great, but I really couldn't impose on them for more than one weekend."
Illinois' primary election will be held March 18.