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Wednesday, July 28, 2004  

Politics: Jack Ryan stays on ballot

Jack Ryan is still on the ballot as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Illinois. Ryan (pictured) has given no rational reason for having failed to remove his name from the ballot more than a month after he said he was withdrawing from the race. Ryan's campaign fell apart after it became known he allegedly tried to force his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, to participate in erotic activity in sex clubs. The allegations were made in 2000. The information became known after Ryan lost a court battle to keep it secret weeks ago. Leaders of the Illinois GOP wish the erstwhile candidate would go away.

CHICAGO - Republican officials on Wednesday called a meeting of the committee that will choose a replacement for Jack Ryan as the party's U.S. Senate candidate, even though Ryan inexplicably remains on the ballot nearly five weeks after he said he would drop out of the race, party chairwoman Judy Baar Topinka said.

"We really can't wait anymore. He's dragged this on too long," Topinka said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Topinka said the State Central Committee will meet Tuesday in Chicago to discuss "the office and either discuss him being on the ballot and how do we get him off, or, if he's already gotten off, discuss the candidates and make our appointment."

The 19-member State Central Committee cannot officially pick a replacement for Ryan until he takes his name off the ballot.

It is unclear why Ryan has chosen to annoy his fellow party members. Though most of them eventually stopped supporting him, that was not until after it became known that he had misrepresented the contents of his divorce files. Ryan failed to block the partial release of divorce records, which he claimed pertained only to child custody. Most of the material in them was was blacked out. However, the files revealed that participation in public sex was a bone of contention between the Ryans before they separated. Ryan has directed much of his anger at the media, claiming it had no right to be inquisitive about or reveal the contents of his divorce records. The former investment banker, who is very wealthy, attacked the media in print and broadcast interviews following the disintegration of his campaign. He has not taken responsibility for problems in his marriage or for not being forthcoming with the Illinois GOP. His seeming mockery of the party could be an effort to get even for its unwillingness to go forward with him as its candidate.

State Republican leaders are frustrated, and the uncertainty about who will be atop the ticket is a lingering embarrassment to a GOP still trying to recover from the indictment of former Gov. George Ryan in a widespread corruption scandal and a disastrous 2002 election in which it lost almost every statewide office.

At the same time, a rosy glow surrounds the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, Barack Obama. The state senator from Chicago delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night to rave reviews, and the national media have labeled him a rising star in the party.

Five competitors are vying to replace Ryan on the ballot. However, most well-known Republicans from Illinois declined invitations to replace him, realizing the race will likely be a bloodbath for the GOP. In order for a replacement to appear on the ballot, Ryan must officially vacate his candidacy by Aug. 27. Until he does, state officials and would-be candidates will remain limbo.

Reasonably related

•The Chicago Tribune reported the contents of the parts of the divorce records that were not redacted in a story headlined "Ryan file a bombshell."

Mac-a-ro-nies previouly considered the Ryan imbroglio in "Jack hits the road" and "We do know Jack. . . Ryan".

11:55 PM