Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White’s two-front fight for his political life could be on its way to the state Supreme Court. A Marion County judge on Thursday ruled that White was not legally qualified as a candidate for the office he holds, and ordered that Democrat Vop Osili, the second-place finisher in the 2010 election, be installed in his place.
The ruling by Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg overturns a decision made by the three-member Indiana Recount Commission. That panel had ruled that despite controversy over his legal residence, White, a Republican, was eligible for the ballot.
Now, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office, which represents the Recount Commission, will ask the Indiana Court of Appeals to consider the case, and also place a hold on the ruling that would keep White in office while the legal process plays out. That court is the last step before the case would reach Indiana’s highest court.
“In all likelihood, the Indiana Supreme Court is going to end up taking this up and providing us all with some direction – which would be welcome, frankly,” said Tom Wheeler, who chaired the Indiana Recount Commission earlier this year.
Rosenberg’s decision sends the case back to the commission, which is a part of the secretary of state’s office, with instruction to remove White from office and install Osili in his place.
The steps the Recount Commission must take to deal with Rosenberg’s ruling get complicated.
Wheeler’s capacity, he said, is not quite clear. He was appointed to lead the panel when White, who would otherwise have been the chairman, removed himself. But once the panel made its decision, it – and his position – dissolved.
“It stopped as a matter of law. Right now there is no Recount Commission; there is no chair of the Recount Commission,” he said.
Wheeler, who was appointed by Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb to replace White, who would normally serve on the panel, said he would call for a meeting, which would require 48 hours’ public notice ahead of time, if he could.