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Baer drops from 16th Congressional District run

Dani Brzozowski will now challenge Rep. Adam Kinzinger for the 16th Congressional District as she runs unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Benjamin Baer, a Coal City social studies teacher who was running as a Democrat, announced on social media he will not be running in the primary after coming up short by four petition signatures after some were discarded.

He collected signatures in October and November with friends and supporters on weekends and after work, but objections were raised over the final number collected.

“We were very grass-roots and inexperienced, but we did collect a number of signatures which we believed to be over the amount expected,” Baer said on Facebook.

“Challenges are fairly common in our state. They are part of the game and it is cheaper to eliminate a candidate through this process than it is to run a race against them,” Baer added.

The 2020 State of Illinois Candidates Guide issued by the Illinois State Board of Elections states that a candidate must have no fewer than 0.5% of the qualified primary electors of the part in the congressional district at the last presidential election. This year, that number for the 16th Congressional District was 607 signatures for a Democrat and 1,192 signatures for a Republican.

Some of the more than 100 signature challenges were overruled by the State Board of Elections record review, Baer said, however, some signatures were denied for reasons such as some who had signed petitions believing they were registered and were not, had changed addresses, lived outside of the district or in some cases signatures were illegible.

Efforts to track down some of the eliminated signatures were unsuccessful and Baer came up short by four signatures, or 0.7% shy of the requirement.

“The closeness of the whole situation proves how much impact a few people can make on the democratic process,” Baer said.

“It is disappointing that such a tactic will remove choice from the voters of the Congressional District 16. The suppression of an election is by its very nature undemocratic. Minutiae such as these also make it arduous for outsiders and working people to become involved in the political process,” he added.

Still, Baer accepted the loss as his own and acknowledged he could have “knocked on some more doors” or started earlier.

He suggests, “next time, I will.”

“The goal of this whole endeavor was to learn more about the process and in the past few months, I have been taught countless lessons. My resolution is to use this knowledge in the future to become more involved in the democratic process,” Baer said. “Our society needs less egos making decisions and more individuals with life experience and level heads.”

The Democratic primary, in which Brzozowski will now run unopposed, is scheduled for March 17. The general election is set for Nov. 3.

In the 2018 race, four candidates vied for the Democratic nomination – nonprofit director Amy Murri Briel, immigration attorney Sara Dady, health care management consultant Neill Mohammad, and farmer and nonprofit director Beth Vercolio-Osmund – with Dady elected as the democratic candidate.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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