Name game goes Drury's way

Name game goes Drury's way

After doing the wrong thing, the courts do the right thing.

Well, apparently there are limits to the willingness of members of this state's judiciary to carry water for Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Last week, a state appeals court overturned an outrageous decision by a Cook County trial court judge — Alfred Paul — to order Democratic attorney general candidate Scott Drury's name be stricken from the ballot.

In ruling for Drury, the three-judge panel noted that "our Supreme Court has stated that 'access to a place on the ballot is a substantial right not lightly to be denied.'"

The court made the right ruling from a legal standpoint because the argument against Drury was nitpicking nonsense at best and an assault on the democratic process at worst.

But damage has been done to the Drury campaign, and there's no point in arguing otherwise. The time, money and energy he's been forced to devote to this collateral attack has been significant.

With the March 20 primary date looming, Drury has time to make up whatever he's lost in this eight-candidate free-for-all. But it would have been best for all, with the exception of insiders angry over Drury's call for change within the Democratic Party, if this ballot challenge farce had never taken place.

There's no indication, so far at least, whether Drury foes will file a frivolous appeal of the decision. That could happen.

Nonetheless, Rep. Drury, a legislator from the Chicago suburbs, expressed satisfaction with the result.

"Mike Madigan and the political machine have come at me with everything they've got — and lost. It's time for Madigan to act graciously in defeat," he said.

Drury, the sole Democrat in the House caucus to challenge the Speaker Madigan's decades-long control of that body, has made no secret of his desire to, among other things, use the attorney's general office to investigate political corruption in Cook County and throughout the state.

He said Madigan needs to "get comfortable with the fact that Illinois is going to have an attorney general who works for people, attacks corruption and is not scared of him."

The issue in the ballot challenge filed by labor union supporters of Madigan was Drury's failure to file a statement of economic interest along with his petitions, as the law requires.

Instead of filing the statement of economic interest, which outlines a candidate's personal financial holdings that might do business with the state, Drury filed a receipt indicating that his statement already is on file at the secretary of state's office and available online to anyone who'd like to see it.

The News-Gazette obtained a copy with a brief internet search.

Drury contended that satisfied legal requirements, and a lawyer for the State Board of Elections in Springfield agreed. Consequently, the board dismissed the challenge to Drury's ballot spot.

Then, for obvious political reasons, Drury foes challenged the board's decision in Cook County, hoping a judge friendly to Democratic Party leaders' political interest would rule their way, and that's exactly what happened.

Fortunately, appellate court judges feel more independent in handling these kinds of politically sensitive cases. They weren't willing to sacrifice their professional credibility under such marginal circumstances.

So Drury is off and running — again. That's good.

Whether he wins or not, Democrats deserve the opportunity to vote for him.

It's the people who are supposed to choose their elected officials, not party insiders who use their political clout to limit voter choice.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion