MOUNT GREENWOOD — Steven Graves will have to wait to learn the outcome of a lawsuit he filed against the Cook County Republican Party after it ousted him from the 19th Ward committeeman's post.
Judge Margarita Kulys Hoffman postponed a hearing Wednesday in Cook County Court. Graves, a Mount Greenwood resident and real estate agent on the Far Southwest Side, sued April 15 after winning the election for 19th Ward GOP committeeman.
Graves and others were removed from the committeeman jobs because GOP bylaws prohibit anyone from holding a leadership position in the party if they've voted in a Democratic primary in the previous eight years, according to Chicago GOP Chairman Chris Cleveland.
Cleveland has accused Graves of being a Democratic plant — a claim Graves vehemently denies. Graves said the party's laws were changed just six days before the election in an effort to keep him from taking the seat.
"Give me a lie detector test," said Graves, outside the courtroom at the Daley Center. He added that he would not go through the trouble of campaigning or filing the lawsuit if he truly did not want the position.
Graves defeated the late Danny Carbol, also a Mount Greenwood resident. He claims party leaders wanted Carbol for the four-year, unpaid post. So they changed the rules at the last minute to make Graves ineligible — hoping to then appoint Carbol after the election.
Attorney Stephen Boulton said the case isn't some personal vendetta against Graves. Instead, he said that Cook County and Chicago GOP leaders instituted the rule to protect the party from a "storm" of Democrats posing as Republicans.
"This bylaw is a defense to us. It is a shield, not a sword," Boulton said.
But Grave's attorney Kevin Sterk reiterated that his client is not part of some Democratic takeover. He also added that GOP brass had the opportunity to object to Graves' candidacy when he filed petitions to run for office, and they failed to do so.
"Chris Cleveland has a personal ax to grind with Steve," Sterk said.
Graves previously said that Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat, too. And he claims to have changed his stripes in recent years, drawn to the Republican side by the party's efforts to fund the military, lower taxes, shrink the size of government and stand behind the anti-abortion movement.
His lawyer seemed to think that Graves might be vindicated at his next court date March 14.
"I think we have a compelling argument on multiple fronts," Sterk said.