Two GOP Congressman held a press briefing yesterday denouncing Illinois Democrats and House Speaker Michael Madigan pouring large donations into the retention of 3rd District Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride. According to Ray Long of the Chicago Tribune, election records filed last night showed the Democrats put $550,000 into the November 3rd Kilbride retention campaign. That pushes the total political spending by both sides in the contest to nearly $7 million.
16th District Congressman Adam Kinzinger and 18th District Congressman Darin LaHood held a press conference yesterday morning calling the retention of Kilbride as a win for Madigan and a loss for the people of Illinois.
LaHood pointed out that several key decisions by Kilbride have worked for Madigan and his donors’ favor over the last decade: “What everybody wants in the judicial system is somebody that’s fair, impartial, and independent. When you look at the fact that in 2010 when Justice Kilbride ran for retention, the millions and millions of dollars that he took from the Democrat Party of Illinois and Mike Madigan and then to turn around and have to decide on cases whether it’s the Fair Maps decision, whether it’s term limits, whether it’s pension reform – these are all positions that Mike Madigan took a personal opinion on. He was personally invested. It would be like walking into your county courthouse as a litigator and you’re sitting there and you are having an opposing side, and the judge had taken millions of dollars from your opponent on other side. People don’t like a rigged system.”
LaHood also spoke against Kilbride’s deciding vote in the Fair Maps redistricting decision in 2010. The contest is critical for Democrats because a Kilbride loss could jeopardize the party’s 4-3 majority on the state’s high court. LaHood says that ultimately the Supreme Court would appoint what he called a “caretaker” justice before an election for the position would happen in 2022 if Kilbride were not be retained.
Kinzinger and LaHood said that ultimately the General Assembly has to pass their own laws when it comes to judicial candidacy reforms, including possibly creating a judicial committee and vetting process used by Congress at the state level.
To win retention and secure a third 10-year term, Kilbride must be supported by 60% of the voters in his 21-county district.