The Supreme Court yesterday threw Illinois politics into turmoil by ordering candidates of the all-black Harold Washington Party placed on ballots in Chicago and surrounding Cook County.

The unsigned order reversed a state Supreme Court ruling, in which a party-line Democratic majority had denied the third-party slate, named for the late mayor of Chicago, a place on the ballot.

The Washington Party is running candidates only for Cook County offices, but Democrats fear it will deny thousands of straight-ticket votes to their nominee for governor, Attorney General Neil Hartigan, and others on the statewide ticket, including the black nominees for attorney general and the state Supreme Court.

Secretary of State Jim Edgar (R), Hartigan's opponent, acknowledged earlier this week that he had been asked to give financial support to the Washington Party. Democrats claim that some of its organizers are GOP agents.

But former appellate judge R. Eugene Pincham, who was defeated for the Democratic nomination for Cook County board president and then broke away to help form the Harold Washington slate, said it was a protest to "years of disrespect from the Irish-controlled Democratic Party."

Pincham has denounced Hartigan, and others in the Washington Party leadership are openly supporting Edgar.

Polls have shown Edgar narrowly ahead of Hartigan, increasing Democratic concern that thousands of blacks in the Chicago area will deny Hartigan their votes.