John Rust Files Lawsuit in Last-Ditch Effort to Join Indiana’s GOP Senate Primary

John Rust for U.S. Senate
John Rust for U.S. Senate

Indiana businessman John Rust has filed a lawsuit in a last-ditch effort to get on the Hoosier State’s Republican Senate primary ballot as he does not meet the voting record criteria to run for the seat under state law, an observation first made by Breitbart News in July. 

Rust filed the 15-page legal challenge Tuesday in the Marion County Superior Court, naming the Indiana Election Commission, Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales, and Jackson County Republican Party Chairwoman Amanda Lowery as the defendants, according to a copy of the filing published by the Indiana Capital Chronicle.

It contends that Indiana Code 3-8-2-7 (a) (4) is “unconstitutionally vague and overly broad,” further asserting it creates “a cycle of voter disenfranchisement.”

Indiana Code 3-8-2-7 mandates that for one to qualify as a candidate of a party, the candidate must have voted on that party’s ballot in the last two primaries he or she voted in. The only other way candidates can get on the ballot without meeting this criteria is if their county’s party chair “certifies that the candidate is a member of that political party.” 

Before an amended version of the law went into effect in 2022, “it required that a candidate vote in one GOP primary,” according to the Capital Chronicle. 

Rust’s voting record, first reported by Breitbart News in July, shows he voted in Democrat primaries throughout the tail end of the second Bush administration through 2008, 2010, and 2012. It is unclear what party, if any, Rust was affiliated with between 1997 and 2004, though he did vote in Republican primaries in 1996 and 2016, according to the records. 

Lowery opted not to certify him as a Republican following a meeting in July due to his voting history, according to the lawsuit.

“Lowery expressed concern about Rust having previously voted in Democratic primaries and Rust explained that those votes were for people he knew personally through church or for those who were pro agriculture,” the filing states of the meeting. He further contended he voted for GOP candidates in general elections.

Lowery told the Indianapolis Star on Tuesday, “State law is crystal clear and applied equally to both major political parties.”

“I look forward to explaining my commitment to following the laws of the state of Indiana and protecting the sanctity of our election process when I am able,” she added.

Rust, whose family founded a top egg producer in the country called Rose Acre Farms, argues in the filing that he did not vote in the 2020 GOP primary because the date was moved due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also notes that many Republicans on his county’s ballot that year were running unopposed.

Rust seeks a long-shot challenge to Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) for outgoing Sen. Mike Braun’s (R-IN) seat, even though Banks has already secured the highly influential endorsement of former President Donald Trump as well as the support of the Indiana Republican Party and Braun, who is pursuing Indiana’s governorship. 

“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 told the Star.

Breitbart News was first to report in June that Rust, who indicated in an April tweet that he was against Trump becoming the GOP presidential nominee, was considering self-funding a challenge to Banks. Allies of both Banks and Trump, including Donald Trump Jr., Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, were quick to double down in their support of Banks.

“Jim Banks is an incredibly strong America First conservative and it’s a shame that an establishment self-funder is even considering a challenge to him,” Trump Jr. told Breitbart News. “But rest assured, MAGA will fight like hell to ensure that Jim is victorious against any big money RINO who decides to run against him.”

The case is Rust v. Morales, No. 49D13-2309-PL-036487, in Superior Court of Marion County, Indiana. 


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