2010 Judicial Retention Watch | Illinois Judicial Election System | Retention elections present additional set of concerns | The Ballooning Costs of Judicial Campaigns | The Negative Impact of Judicial Campaign Spending | Kilbride's 2000 Election | Learn More
Rock Island Democrat Tom Kilbride’s election to the high court in 2000 cemented the Democrats’ power, giving the party a 5-2 majority.
In that election, Kilbride squeaked out a victory over Republican Carl Hawkinson, a state senator from Galesburg and the better-known of the two general election candidates, winning 52 percent of the vote.
He replaced retiring Republican Justice James Heiple, who had been elected toward the traditionally GOP-leaning district in 1990.
At the time, the Kilbride-Hawkinson election set a new record high in fundraising for an Illinois court seat, as Kilbride raised more than $700,000 – about twice as much as Hawkinson.
Much of Kilbride’s support came from the Democratic Party of Illinois, led by the then and current House Speaker, Michael Madigan. Thousands in additional support came from labor unions.
ILLINOIS' 3RD DISTRICT
Hawkinson was supported by Republican leaders, including Illinois Senate Pres. Pate Philip and other GOP organizations, and many business groups, including the Illinois Manufacturers Association.
The level and sources of fundraising during this 2000 election cycle was alarming, as many of those with vested interests in issues which were slated or expected to be heard by the upcoming court – including tort reform, workers’ compensation, and redistricting – were behind the big checks.
And as with the current 2010 election cycle, the partisan composition of the state’s high court was of keen interest to Democrats and Republicans because of the significant influence the court could have on Illinois’ legislative boundaries.
Each decade, one year after the decennial U.S. Census, the Illinois General Assembly redraws its state House and Senate district lines to adjust for shifts in population. The parties have used this process to engineer districts that reliably elect candidates of one party or the other. The map has a direct influence on the composition of the Illinois General Assembly and, as a result, plays a role in what legislation can or cannot be passed. Given the map’s importance, the “losing” or minority party that does not draw the districts routinely challenges the legality of the map, and the Supreme Court is the sole state body that weighs in on those challenges.