John Rust, who announced a run for U.S. Senate against U.S. Rep. Jim Banks in the 2024 Republican primary, filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a judge to declare an Indiana law that would prevent him from getting on voting ballots unconstitutional.
Rust, who is the former board chair of Seymour-based egg producer 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 IndyStar Tuesday he hopes the lawsuits allows Hoosiers that identify with their party to run for office without following requirements in Indiana statute on political party affiliation.
According to the statute, a candidate’s past two primary elections must be cast with the party the candidate is affiliated with or a county party chair must sign off on a candidate to run. In the lawsuit, Rust states that this statute “should be struck down as being unconstitutionally vague and overly broad.”
"The political establishment does not allow non political insiders to run using this obscure law because most people don't know about it at all, and it's just unfair," Rust said.
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 unopposed Republican candidates in Jackson County, according to the lawsuit.
He said his Democratic votes were for people running for office who he knew personally or went to church with in Jackson County, where he lives. But he said he's always been a conservative Republican and voted for Republicans in the general elections.
According to the lawsuit, Rust met with Lowery in July about his campaign where she expressed concern about Rust's votes in Democratic primaries and said she would not certify him due to his voting record.
Reached Tuesday evening, Lowery said she was unable to comment on pending legal matters.
"State law is crystal clear and applied equally to both major political parties," Lowery said. "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."
If Rust gets on the ballot, he would face Banks, who this summer received the endorsement of the Indiana Republican Party. The state party’s endorsement gave the Republican National Committee official sign-off to give financial support to Banks.
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 in a crowded Republican field.
A message to Morales' office Tuesday evening was not immediately returned.
IndyStar reporter Kayla Dwyer contributed to this story.
Contact IndyStar's state government and politics reporter Brittany Carloni at email@example.com or 317-779-4468. Follow her on Twitter/X @CarloniBrittany.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: John Rust files lawsuit to face Jim Banks in Senate primary in Indiana