BENTON – Bob Winchester, central committeeman of the Illinois Republican Party since 1992, claims in U.S. district court that the party rigged an election against him.
His lawyer, Stephen Boulton of Chicago, alleges that the party improperly favored State Sen. Chapin Rose of Champaign for committeeman in an election on April 18.
According to Boulton’s complaint, irregularities occurred at county conventions across the 15th Congressional district.
He wrote that irregularities changed the vote “from the true result, a majority in favor of Winchester, to a false result, an alleged majority in favor of Rose.”
In an interview on May 21, Boulton said that he had “a number” of affidavits from Madison County which demonstrate that Bob Winchester won the election.
Last month, the Record reported that precinct committee men and women in Madison County chose Winchester over Rose by a margin of approximately 60 to 40 percent, and then as a sign of unity voted by acclamation to place 100 percent of the county's vote in favor of Winchester.
Winchester filed the suit in Hardin County, against state central committee members and State Board of Elections members who certified Rose’s election.
The party removed the action to federal court on May 18.
Boulton’s complaint described a county convention where, “only Rose was presented as a candidate for whom votes could be cast.”
“Rose alone was nominated, and by the chairman of the convention,” Boulton wrote.
He wrote that the chairman reported a unanimous vote for Rose to party staff.
Boulton said it happened in Fayette County, where Randy Pollard serves as county GOP chairman.
“It was over in 45 seconds,” Boulton said. “No one understood what happened.”
In the complaint, he wrote that several county chairmen reported incorrect results to staff, favoring Rose and that county chairmen and staff acted as agents of the state party.
He wrote that the party, through staff, participated in the election by recruiting candidates and directing candidates to withdraw.
He wrote that staff opposed Winchester due to “a strong likelihood of losing their positions if the present chairman is not re-elected.”
The central committee re-elected its chairman, Tim Schneider, on May 19.
Boulton said the committee seated Rose over an objection.
“We expected that,” he said. “If Winchester was sitting there rather than Rose, the outcome might have been different.”
The court clerk assigned the action to District Judge Staci Yandle.