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1st Ward Democratic Committeeman's Race Could End Up With No Names On Ballot

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There are under five weeks and counting until the Illinois primary comes around.

While the presidential race is getting the most attention, there is one local race that may leave voters scratching their heads.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, it is because there might not be any names on the ballot.

Ballots were still being finalized at the Chicago Board of Elections late Thursday. That is not unusual – even with the start of early voting less than a week away.

But one race, for 1st Ward Democratic Committeeman – the unpaid political leader responsible for slating candidates, rallying voters, and doling out jobs – has become a real ballot headache.

That is because Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) was kicked off the ballot. And the only name on it as of Thursday, Jay Ramirez, may not be there for long.

"It is in limbo," said Chicago Board of Elections spokesman James Allen.

Initially, La Spata and Ramirez's names were approved and put on the ballot for the committeeman's race. Then, petition challenges resulted in both their names being booted.

But Allen said Ramirez asked a court to keep his name on the ballot while he appeals his ouster. So if Ramirez wins, his name stays.

But if he loses, his name could be removed and the 1st Ward Democratic committeeman slot could end up with no candidates at all – becoming a write-in race only.

"I wouldn't say it puts us in a pickle. We've been through this before. This isn't our first rodeo," Allen said. "But you know, it does create a wrinkle where we don't know yet what the final disposition of this contest is."

La Spata blames signature shenanigans by another write-in candidate on his ouster. Ramirez could not be reached.

But if it becomes a write-in only race, a candidate will need at least 1,032 votes to win – not an easy get.

"It's quite a challenge for the candidates to educate voters," Allen said.

Besides La Spata, Lauren Weber is another registered write-in candidate. Allen is not sure when the Illinois Appellate Court will issue its ruling on the committeeman's race – clearly, the sooner the better.

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