Rules set for special election in Ill. Senate race

July 26, 2010 (CHICAGO)

It appears Illinois voters will decide two elections for the United States Senate; one race for a 60-day term to fill the expired current Senate term and another six-year term with the major candidates appearing to be the same on both ballots.

Judge John Grady's decision is not final, but it does set some general guidelines for what the top of the ballot will look like on November 2. That's when the courts have ruled the state of Illinois must also hold a special election to finish the last 60 days of Barack Obama's term, replacing the appointed Roland Burris. Grady wants the Democratic, Republican and Green candidates' central committees to select their candidates to run for the 60-day term. Those candidates will presumably be primary winners Alexi Giannoulias, Mark Kirk and Lee Allen Jones respectively.

The special election ballot may also include qualified independents who have enough signatures to get on the six-year term ballot. There is information that the six-year term ballot would occupy the top ballot position followed by the 60-day term special election. Finally, the judge wants that special election results certified as soon as possible after the vote.

Under the plan, interim Senator Roland Burris could make an appeal to the Democratic committee to run in that special election. He has indicated he wants to but he gets no automatic ballot position. His lawyer says that's not good because he says Burris is the best candidate for that 60-day term.

"You have someone who is already in the seat, who is already experienced, who already has the staff, who already understands the issues that may or may not be voted on during that period of time. So he is going to serve the interests of the people of the state of Illinois," said Tim Wright, Roland Burris' attorney.

"The party can pick anybody who is otherwise qualified to be a senator to be the nominee in the special election and Mr. Burris, if he really wants to, should present himself," said Marty Oberman, election law attorney. Oberman says Judge Grady is expected to finalize his ruling in the next several days.

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