Race For Lake County Coroner Heats Up

CHICAGO (CBS) — He was named Law Enforcement Executive of the Year by one group, but Dr. Thomas Rudd is off the ballot in Lake County.

Tonight, CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards has more on the heated battle being fought over of all offices, coroner.

He’s an incumbent, yet he’s a write-in. And Rudd says his odds as a write-in, “They’re very low…why are they spending this money to get rid of me?”

The coroner once admonished for speculating suicide, which eventually proved true in the case of the crooked Lt. GI Joe Gliniewicz.

Rudd also discovered new evidence that put in question the murder conviction of daycare worker Melissa Calusinski.

And he over-ruled an initial finding, and ruling police inflicted wounds in the death of Darrin Hanna, that led to a multi-million dollar settlement.

“I think I’ve angered the power structure,” Rudd says.

In his re-election bid to keep his job , Rudd voluntarily withdrew as a Democrat, after questions were raised about his nominating petitions. He then collected more than 14,000 signatures to run as an independent, but lost an exhaustive court fight because it was deemed that you can’t run for different parties in the same cycle.

Election Attorney Ross Secler says he represented Rudd. He says in his experience and to the best of his knowledge, he has never seen such a concerted effort to get a coroner off the ballot.

The coroner’s race is front and center in Lake County.

The head of the Republican party, at a recent parade wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, also wore a shirt and carried a sign for Dr. Howard Cooper.

Cooper, a Gurnee dentist, is the Republican in the race for coroner. He has forensic experience. Michael Donnenwirth, a fired coroner’s office employee with 30+ years of investigative experience, is the Democrat.

They both say they’re just as qualified as the incumbent.

Our interview at his campaign headquarters–a re-pourpsed ballet studio–he’s on the outside looking in.

A write-in candidate for the job he holds now.

Until the fat lady sings, or the fat Democratic candidate sings, it ain’t over. Or in this case, the Democrat, turned Independant, turned write-in coroner candidate.

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