Local Republican infighting returned to Cook County Circuit Court this week, as a would-be congressional candidate has asked a judge to intervene in how the local GOP slates candidates and picks its chairman.
Kimball Ladien, a physician who is representing himself, filed his complaint April 25, seeking to sue on his own behalf and on behalf of 14 others who he contended have a beef with Chicago Republican Party leaders. The lawsuit named a number of defendants including Gov. Bruce Rauner, Republican Party of Illinois Chairman Tim Schneider, Cook County Republican Party Chairman Sean Morrison and Chicago Republican Party Chairman Christopher Cleveland.
Ladien, who is trying to be slated as the GOP candidate in the 5th Congressional District for November’s general election, said the defendants are tying to block his bid by preventing him from securing enough petition signatures by the Illinois State Board of Elections’ May 31 deadline.
The lawsuit primarily revolved around the April 26 vote for Chicago Republican Party chairman, which had been rescheduled from April 13. Incumbent chairman Cleveland was purportedly challenged by Percy Coleman, a 34th Ward committeeman challenging Cleveland. Other plaintiffs, which the complaint identified as the “Chicago 13,” are ward committeemen elected in March 15 primary balloting, yet against whom Ladien asserts “Cleveland had made the outrageous move to block committeemen duly elected in the (primary) from taking their legal seats.” On April 12, the Chicago GOP sent the 13 “illegal notices that they could not be seated, let alone vote, despite having been duly elected,” Ladien asserted.
Ladien said Cleveland tried to have the men and women removed from the April 13 meeting, at which Ladien said the city GOP was supposed to elect its chairman. Seeing the displaced committeemen would not leave, Cleveland allegedly "illegally, arbitrarily and capriciously canceled the meeting as well as the required vote for a new chair of the CRP,” Ladien said. He said the postponement of the vote was allegedly out of fear Coleman could become the first ever African-American Chicago GOP chairman.
In addition to questions about Cleveland’s ability to slate viable candidates beyond himself, Ladien argued he and Coleman could bring together the city’s South and West sides “to implement bipartisan Safe Haven demonstrations that could reduce gang crime and murders in Chicago 10 to 40 percent by the November elections.” He noted the so-called Safe Haven programs, and their Community Service Corps component, “got broad bipartisan support ranging from (former Illinois) Gov. Jim Edgar through (former U.S.) Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.”
Ladien, who backs Donald Trump the race for the Republican presidential nomination, noted Cleveland also serves as co-chair of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in Illinois. Although the party website identifies Cleveland as chairman, Ladien said Cleveland’s actions of April 13 should not be considered the Chicago party’s chairman any longer.
The Chicago GOP set a vote for Tuesday, April 26, at Willis Tower, which Ladien hoped the court would halt under a temporary restraining order. That request was denied, however, and Cleveland was reelected Chicago Republic Party Chairman Tuesday evening.
Cleveland declined to comment on the record regarding Ladien’s lawsuit.
On Wednesday, Ladien said Coleman had left the Tuesday evening gathering in protest after the “Chicago 13” were again not permitted to participate. Ladien said the judge had set a meeting for May 3, but he is going to ask Republican Party leadership to meet with him before that to resolve the matter.
He further reiterated his contention that Cleveland’s election as chairman should be “null and void," calling the process of excluding Coleman "a high-tech lynching."
Because state and Cook County Republican leaders, including Rauner, allowed the meeting to proceed, Ladien said they would become “co-conspirators by their silence to the reprehensible abuses of Cleveland harkening back to the worst days of the Jim Crow era.”
Though Trump is not named as a plaintiff, Ladien said he believed the GOP presidential frontrunner “would wish to join in this noble cause.”
Cook County electronic court records indicated only that the case was assigned for further proceedings, with a new court date in August.