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Goggin leaning toward write-in candidacy

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

For the second time in five months, a Fayette County electoral board has ruled that Greenville attorney Dan Goggin cannot appear on the November ballot as a Republican candidate for state’s attorney.

But Goggin, whose plan to challenge Democrat incumbent Stephen Friedel has included a short-lived plan to run as incumbent, said he still wants to run for state’s attorney – as a write-in candidate.

Goggin said on Tuesday morning that he would strongly consider being a write-in candidate after an electoral board granted Friedel’s objection to the Fayette County Republican Central Committee’s second attempt to put Goggin on the ballot.

The central committee filed documents on Goggin’s behalf on Aug. 1, claiming that the action was allowed after Goggin declined to run as a Republican in April.

But a week later, Friedel objected to that attempt, saying that Goggin did not have the option of declining the nomination, citing an earlier electoral board ruling that prohibited him from being a Republican candidate.

Monday’s electoral board ruling in favor of Friedel was announced about an hour after the two attorneys finished presenting their cases. In its written ruling, the board stated that Goggin had failed to file a timely objection to an April 15 electoral board ruling and that his Aug. 1 nomination papers filing was not within the required 60 days of the primary election.

The makeup of the board making the decision on Monday was different from the one that ruled against Goggin in April. The new board consisted of County Clerk & Recorder Terri Braun, Sheriff Aaron Lay and Bill LaDage.

Lay took the vacancy created when newly appointed Circuit Clerk Mary Sue Ruot asked to be recused, and LaDage, a retired school teacher and administrator, was appointed by Judge S. Gene Schwarm after County Treasurer Rose Hoover asked to be recused.

In Monday’s hearing, Goggin maintained that he was eligible to appear on the ballot as a Republican candidate because of what he argued was the failure of the April electoral board to make a legal ruling.

In granting Friedel’s objection, that electoral board ruled that the central committee included the wrong filing date on Goggin’s nominating petition.

Goggin said on Monday that the electoral board violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act by both deliberating in closed session and not taking a formal vote in open session.

He also said that he declined the party’s nomination when he told central committee officials that he would not participate in any court proceedings involving an appeal of the board’s ruling.

Goggin said he told GOP officials that since he had the option of running as an independent candidate, he would pursue that avenue.

He did follow up on that plan, but Friedel also objected to that attempt, alleging that a number of problems with signature sheets that were a part of Goggin’s independent petition made the petition invalid.

An electoral board hearing was scheduled to rule on that objection, but Goggin withdrew his petition within hours of that hearing.

Friedel maintained on Monday that even if there were Open Meetings Act violations – which he did not believe there were – it would not invalidate their ruling. Friedel argued that the members of that board did vote by signing their names to the order.

“Once the board ruled, it was done,” Friedel said. “There was no further opportunity for the Republican Party to slate a candidate.”

Friedel also argued that if Goggin believed there were problems with the April ruling, he had 10 days to file an objection. Since he did not, Friedel claimed, the order became final with the State Board of Elections.

The incumbent state’s attorney also argued that even if that had not been a legal ruling, which meant that Goggin was still a Republican candidate, Goggin still needed to take formal action in declining the party’s nomination. Simply telling party officials that he decline the nomination was not sufficient, Friedel said.

In his closing arguments, Goggin again maintained that if anyone should have filed an objection on the electoral board’s ruling in April, it was Friedel. On the basis of his belief that there was not a legal vote, Goggin argued that he was still a GOP candidate.

“It should have been his (Friedel’s) objection to make,” Goggin said. “Why would I want to go into court to correct the problem that he (Friedel) should have corrected.”

Goggin also maintained that the electoral board mistakenly failed to allow him and Republican Central Committee Chairman Randy Pollard to explain the situation with the filing date on the initial nominating petition.

“The first board wouldn’t have anything to do with Mr. Pollard’s explanation of the (committee) meeting,” Goggin said.

“That board said, ‘If the dates wrong,’ even though the date is right, ‘you’re not allowed to come into this forum and explain,’” he said. “You (the electoral board) wouldn’t have anything to do with that.”

Goggin said he believes that the April electoral board created confusion as to the status of his candidacy, “so I think that confusion creates a vacancy.

“That’s the easiest and most expedient way (to resolve the problems with the first board),” he said.

“I’m either a candidate technically from the first nomination ee or because of the confusion created by the first board,” Goggin said.

Friedel argued that even if there was a ballot vacancy and Goggin withdrew after that vacancy was created, there had to be documentation. If such an allowance is made in Illinois election laws, he said, “Then, Katie bar the door.”

“I would argue that he (Goggin) did not even have a nomination to decline,” Friedel said. “That’s all this is – circumventing the board’s (April) ruling. This is just an end run to get around that.”

In his final arguments, Friedel again supported the April 15 ruling.

“That order says that he cannot be on the ballot,” Friedel said. “It’s his burden (to pursue the matter in court) – the ruling was against him.

“It’s not confusing at all,” Friedel said.

The morning after the ruling came down against him, Goggin said he believes the electoral board “did the best job they could.

“There were not that many facts to deal with. It was more an interpretation of the law ee and they are not judges,” Goggin said.

He continued to maintain that the electoral board “kind of ignored” his arguments on alleged violations of the Open Meetings Act. “Technically, there was no vote,” he said.

Goggin said during Monday’s hearing that his attempts to get on the ballot in Fayette County could leave the county with a legacy ee and not a favorable one.

“Spain is known for its Spanish Inquisition, Salem is known for its witch hunts, and Fayette County will probably be remembered for the Dan Goggin nomination.”

Goggin said on Wednesday that he planned to initiate efforts to run as a write-in candidate, saying that would be “a lot easier and more efficient.”

While he said that running as a write-in “would be my preference,” he said on Wednesday morning that Pollard is speaking to GOP attorneys in Chicago about pursuing the electoral board ruling in court.