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Libertarian candidate admits objection to candidacy in 70th District race has merits

July 6, 2018

Libertarian candidate for state representative John Mathey concedes voters might only see two names on the ballot in the fall – and his won’t be one of them.

Mathey, 24, of Cortland said he hasn’t yet seen an objection to his petition to run for office, filed by Sycamore lawyer and former Republican DeKalb County Board member Riley Oncken and Mike L. Carlson, a Republican precinct committeeman from Maple Park.

“But I assume I know what it is,” Mathey said Friday morning.

In the allotted three months for Libertarian candidates to collect 1,800 signatures on their petition to run, Mathey collected 755. Democrats and Republicans are required to collect 500 signatures.

“It’s somewhat right that there’s some sort of requirement for us to get on the ballot,” Mathey said, “but we’re trying to fundraise and campaign, but while we’re approaching people who are interested in contributing, they’re wondering whether you’re actually going to be on the ballot.”

The 1,800 signatures shakes out to be about 5 percent of the people who vote in the district, and Mathey said the Illinois threshold is high compared to neighboring states.

The two locks on the ticket in the race to replace longtime 70th District Rep. Bob Pritchard, who resigned Sunday after a 15-year run, are Democratic county board member Paul Stoddard of DeKalb, and Sycamore insurance agent Jeff Keicher, a Republican.

Mathey did say, however, that legislators such as Daniel Biss, who came up short in his run for the Democratic nomination in the governor’s race in the spring primary, have proposed legislation that would make third parties’ signature requirements the same as the two better-established parties.

Mathey, the vice chairman of the Libertarian Party of DeKalb County and a laborer and local union member of five years, is making his first run at public office. It’s technically not over yet. He’ll head to Springfield on Tuesday for a hearing, where he’ll hear the objections to his petition and have a chance to make his case.

He said the party’s candidate for attorney general, Bubba Harsey, ran into a similar signature shortfall in 2016, but he’s skeptical he’ll be able to win an argument at the hearing.

“I’m not sure that’s an avenue in which we can succeed in beating an objection,” he said. “When the two parties make the rules of the game, you have to play by the rules until you have a seat at the table.”

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