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State election board, Indiana Supreme Court rule against John Rust, removing him from ballot

John Rust is a White man with light-colored hair, wearing glasses and a suit and tie.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
John Rust watches as the Indiana Election Commission votes to remove him from the Republican primary ballot for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.

Southern Indiana egg farmer John Rust was removed from the Republican primary ballot for U.S. Senate, in a unanimous decision by the Indiana Election Commission Tuesday.

The Indiana Supreme Court also ruled against Rust Tuesday, reversing a lower court decision that would have kept Rust on the ballot.

State law requires candidates in a party primary to either have voted in that party’s primary in the last two primary elections in which they cast a ballot; or, get the permission of the county party leader where they live.

Rust doesn’t meet those requirements and argues it’s an unconstitutional requirement to get on the ballot. Rust’s attorney repeated those arguments before the Indiana Election Commission, urging its members to keep Rust on the ballot.

But commission member Karen Celestino-Horseman said the board’s hands are tied.

“The Indiana Supreme Court has spoken to us and they’ve told us to enforce the law as it was originally written,” Celestino-Horseman said.

That was already true before Tuesday — the Supreme Court had temporarily halted the lower court’s decision that had allowed Rust on the ballot.

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And then, minutes after the Election Commission’s decision, the Supreme Court issued a new order and said it had voted against Rust.

Rust’s attorney said the campaign plans to both appeal the Election Commission’s decision and continue the lawsuit.

If Rust remains off the ballot, the GOP U.S. Senate primary will be uncontested, with U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) the lone candidate.

The 2024 Indiana primary election is Tuesday, May 7. Voter registration ends on Monday, April 8.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.