Indiana US Senate candidate files suit challenging law that may keep him off the ballot

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An egg farmer seeking the Republican nomination for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2024 filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of a state law that could prevent him from getting on the ballot.

John Rust, the chair of Seymour-based Rose Acre Farms, filed the lawsuit against Secretary of State Diego Morales, the Indiana Election Commission and Jackson County Republican Party Chair Amanda Lowery.

Rust told The Indianapolis Star he hopes the lawsuit will allow Indiana residents that identify with their party to run for office without following requirements in Indiana law on political party affiliation.

The law says a candidate’s past two primary elections must be cast with the party the candidate is affiliated with or a county party chair must approve the candidacy. In the lawsuit filed in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis, Rust states that this statute “should be struck down as being unconstitutionally vague and overly broad.”

Rust voted as a Republican in the 2016 primary but as a Democrat in the 2012 primary. He did not vote in the 2020 Republican primary due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lack of competitive Republican races in Jackson County, the lawsuit says.

He said his Democratic votes went to people who he knew personally. But he said he’s always been a conservative Republican and voted for Republicans in the general elections.

The lawsuit states Lowery, in a July meeting with Rust, expressed concerns about Rust’s votes in Democratic primaries and said she would not certify him.

Lowery said she could not comment on pending litigation. An email seeking comment was sent to Morales' office.

Rust faces an uphill battle for the GOP nomination against U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, who has received the endorsement of the Indiana Republican Party. In a statement, Banks said Rust’s “longtime Democrat voting record” disqualifies him from running as a Republican.

“No one is trying to keep him off the ballot, he just thinks he’s above the law and can throw his money around to buy a U.S. Senate seat,” Banks said.

The U.S. Senate seat is being vacated by Sen. Mike Braun, who is running for governor.