Petition challenge withdrawn, Greenwood vs. Schmidt rematch back on track

By Bill Dwyer for Chronicle Media

The challenge to former 114th District State Rep. LaToya Greenwood’s nominating petitions ended recently when Wavey T. Lester, a former state senate candidate from Milstadt, backed down and withdrew the objection. (Photo courtesy of LaToya Greenwood for State Representative)

In early December the Illinois GOP was quick to jump on a formal challenge brought against the nominating petitions of former 114th District House Rep. LaToya Greenwood.

Postings on the Illinois GOP’s website and the objector’s Facebook page bannered the action. The GOP alleged a “pattern of fraud,” and posted on both the organization’s website and on the former Twitter website (now “X”) on Dec. 11, over the background “Fraud Alert” in large red capitalized letters.

“Pattern of fraud in Metro East alleged in signature objections,” it announced.

There was no such fanfare in January, however, when objector Wavey T. Lester, a former state senate candidate from Milstadt, backed down and withdrew the

Kevin Schmidt, 114th District State Rep. (Kevin Schmidt photo)

objection. In order for the objection to have been sustained, an Illinois State Board of Elections hearing officer would have had to have found that fully two-thirds of the more than 1,600 signatures Greenwood had submitted were fraudulent or otherwise legally defective.

But Greenwood wasn’t blaming Lester. In a press release dated Jan. 12, Greenwood pointed the finger at freshman State Rep. Kevin Schmidt, who she will face in next fall’s general election. She called the challenge a “backroom effort to deny voters a choice in the November election.”

Greenwood also called the petition objections a “baseless attempt to defame me … .” She also opined that the real target of the attack was “… the people of this district who want smart leadership — not conspiracy theories, disenfranchisement, and extremist agendas.”

There was just a bit of overstatement in Greenwood’s press release. It referred to “a bipartisan election board’s rejection” of the petition objection and said that “Republican and Democratic election officials are rejecting Kevin Schmidt’s effort to disenfranchise voters in our community.”

However, the ISBE never convened a hearing in which anything was rejected by anyone, due to the objection being withdrawn. But her rhetorical overreach underscored the political animus that has developed between her and Schmidt since late 2022, when he upset Greenwood by a six-point margin, flipping the district from blue to red.

Schmidt has called Greenwood “radical,” and she has called Schmidt “extreme.” During the 2022 campaign, they differed heatedly on the Safe-T Act, which ended cash bail in Illinois. She strongly supported the changes, Schmidt said it was ant-police and eroded law and order.

Schmidt says he is “fighting for fiscal responsibility in Springfield, and that he voted against Governor J.B. Pritzker’s “bloated $50.4 billion budget because it included pay raises for legislators and hundreds of millions of dollars for people in our state illegally.”

Saying that his focus “is serving the people of the 114th District,” Schmidt announced that he is donating his recent pay raise “to local charities to help people in need right here in our own backyard.”

Schmidt also touts his support of law enforcement, and proposes creating a grant program to help communities fund police body cameras. He also co-sponsored a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for prosecuting cases of COVID-19 relief funding fraud.

Greenwood has touted her co-sponsorship of 300 House and primary sponsorship of over 25 bills during her previous three terms as 114th District House Representative.

Schmidt, she said,  “… cannot and will not represent the diverse voices of this district.”