Dem challenges Gill's petitions in 13th District

Dem challenges Gill's petitions in 13th District

SPRINGFIELD — The Democratic candidate for Congress in the 13th District on Tuesday filed objections to the petitions of independent candidate David Gill and wants him booted off the Nov. 8 election ballot.

Decatur Democrat Mark Wicklund personally filed the objections Tuesday afternoon at the Illinois State Board of Elections, about two hours before the deadline to do so.

If Wicklund's objections are successful, he'll knock Gill off the ballot and make the 13th District race between himself and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville. The 13th District runs from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis on the southwest.

Gill, an emergency room physician from Bloomington, has run for Congress four times before, all as a Democrat. The most recent occasion was in 2012.

Wicklund said Tuesday he believed that more than half of the signatures Gill filed were invalid.

"I've spent a long week and a half, two weeks going through petitions with my team and getting these filings ready to go," he said. "We basically have two objections: eliminating the number of blank lines on his petitions and throwing off the signatures that are from out of the district."

Wicklund claims there are about 800 blank lines and that another 1,300 signatures are by voters who live outside of the 13th District.

"The actual number of out of districts, just going through them, is probably roughly 3,500 to 4,000. But we focused primarily on the McLean County and Champaign County and Sangamon County areas, where the counties are split (between congressional districts)," Wicklund said. "The papers we filed also said he had bad signatures, bad addresses, (people) not registered. The number of those we're pointing at is well over half of his signatures, over half had some sort of issue."

Last month Gill estimated he got well over the 10,754 petition signatures he needed.

"To get as many signatures as he got, I give him a lot of credit for it," Wicklund said. "But he's been through this enough, you would think he'd be a little more careful."

Wicklund said he was confident Gill's name would be taken off the ballot by the state elections board.

But Gill said he would do all he could to stay on the ballot.

"We will fight this as far as we can. We didn't collect 15 times as many signatures as the Democratic and Republican candidates for nothing," he said. "There are other ways to fight this too."

He indicated he might take his case to the courts.

"Is this constitutional, to require me to get 15 times more signatures? Even an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate doesn't have to get 15 times as many signatures as the party candidates. It's questionable to my way of thinking," said Gill. "We'll see what my attorneys say.

"There's a lot to play out in the next few weeks."

Wicklund, who had supported Gill in past elections, said he didn't regret challenging his opponent's signatures.

"Dr. Gill had plenty of opportunities. I spoke to him even before I started circulating petitions to run as a Democrat. I've worked on two of his campaigns before and helped him out along with my wife," Wicklund said. "We told him that if he was going to run again as a Democrat, we'd get behind you one more time. But he's basically trying to pull the same thing that happened to him in 2012."

That's the year John Hartman ran as an independent and siphoned enough votes to allow Davis to win the three-way race.

"When Gill was first running, I felt that his heart and his compassion was in it," Wicklund said. "But I just feel he's lost that and it's more of an ego trip now. He keeps talking about how he doesn't like what's going on in the Democratic Party, but I've always thought that if you don't like what's going on in your party, you don't abandon it. You fix what's wrong and go on."

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