CHICAGO (AP) — Measures that would allow Illinois voters to decide on lawmaker term limits and a new political redistricting process can’t appear on November’s ballot, a judge ruled Friday, in a decision that could be a setback for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva decided the measures didn’t meet constitutional requirements and ruled them invalid. Attorneys for the term limits group vowed to appeal, while the redistricting group announced they’d scrap efforts for 2014.
Rauner, who’s trying to unseat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in what is one of the most competitive governor’s races nationwide, has made term limits a campaign cornerstone. In addition to railing against “career politicians,” his campaign sees the measure as a way to inspire supporters to vote.
But his group and another supporting changes to redistricting have said the court case, and a separate signature verification process by election officials, has been laced with politics in heavily-Democratic Cook County. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of business and community groups, but argued by well-known elections attorney Michael Kasper who’s represented top Democrats, including House Speaker Michael Madigan. An opponent of term limits, Madigan is the longest serving House speaker nationwide at nearly three decades.
“We always knew that the protectors of the failed status quo would fight this in court and that it would go to the (Illinois) Supreme Court,” Rauner said in a statement. “Illinoisans by the hundreds of thousands have spoken out in favor of shaking up Springfield with term limits, and the will of the people should not and ultimately, will not be denied.”
Democrats have dismissed the allegations, including Quinn. The Chicago Democrat led a petition drive for a term limits ballot initiative in 1994, but it was struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court.