Downstate Judicial Races Leave Records in the Dust

Note - We put this release out earlier this morning, which is to say the numbers are a tad stale by now. Many of these candidates have since filed A1s, including Democratic Appellate Court candidate Bruce Stewart for $125K, Republican House candidate John Cavaletto for $20K, and Sen. Judy Myers and House candidate Dick Cain for $14K each. So it goes with moving targets! Check back to ilcampaign.org for regular updates.

Downstate Judicial Races Leave Records in the Dust
9 Legislative Contests Pass $1M Mark

With one weekend left in Campaign 2006, fundraising in judicial and legislative races is off the charts. Spending by two candidates battling to fill a vacancy on the 5th District Appellate Court in southern Illinois has obliterated the $567,000 record for General Election spending in an appellate court race in Illinois, and quite possibly the national record for appellate contests. The fight over one Circuit Court seat in the Metro East area also seems headed for record-breaking spending.

In addition, five Senate races and four House races have crossed the $1 million mark, and at least three others are poised to break that threshold. Large contributions from labor unions, especially teachers, and tort reform organizations are driving the totals. Previous election cycles have seen no more than 7 legislative races break the $1 million mark.

Among judicial races, two stand out for their fundraising: the 5th District Appellate race in southern Illinois and the race for the Kardis vacancy in Third Circuit, also in southern Illinois. Both look to be replays of the 2004 5th District Supreme Court race: a proxy war between tort reform advocates and trial lawyers. The race in this Appellate Court district, which stretches from the Metro East area to the Indiana border, already appears to have broken the record for spending in a state Appellate Court contest. Most of the money in the race is going for TV attack ads. Surveys taken right after the 2004 Supreme Court race in the same area found that judicial elections conducted this way do severe damage to popular confidence in the judiciary. (See ICPR’s website for the surveys)

Contested Appellate Court Races
(Fundraising totals from formation of the PAC through November 2 9am)
3rd District Central IL = $476,000
Michael Powers (R) $296,000
Vicki Wright (D) $180,000
5th District/ Southern IL = $3,063,000
Stephen McGlynn (R) $2,215,000
Bruce Stewart (D) $847,000

The Circuit Court race in Madison and Bond counties between Don Weber and David Hylla has surged past half a million and will likely break a record for Circuit Court races in Illinois. Circuit Court races rarely draw this kind of interest from financial donors. With no guarantee that the winner will even be assigned to hear personal injury cases, both candidates for the Kardis vacancy are drawing heavily from personal injury interests, plaintiffs for the Democrat and defendants for the Republican. The race for the Moran vacancy in the same Circuit is far more typical of Circuit Court races.

Third Circuit Court Races (Madison and Bond Counties)
(Fundraising totals from formation of the PAC through November 2 9am)
Kardis Vac / Madison & Bond Co. = $629,000
Don W. Weber (R) $233,000
David A. Hylla (D) $395,000
Moran Vac / Madison & Bond Co. = $210,000
James Hackett (R) $61,000
Barbara Crowder (D) $149,000

Some of the legislative races in the targeted districts are expected to break state records. What all of these expensive legislative races have in common is gigantic transfers from the legislative leaders. Indeed, the four legislative leaders have raised a combined $17.6 million for the General Election, and to date have transferred $11.2 million to aid their candidates. While these numbers are floating targets, ICPR estimates that Senate President Emil Jones retains the highest balance going into the final weekend, with $2.2 million in cash available; followed by Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson at $1.6 million; House Republican Leader Tom Cross at $1.4 million, and House Speaker and Democratic Party Chair Michael Madigan at $1 million.

Top Legislative Races
(Cash on hand June 30 plus fundraising totals from July 1 through November 2 9am)
52nd Senate - Champaign/ Urbana = $1,879,000
Judith Myers (R) $843,000
Michael Frerichs (D) $1,035,000
Joseph Parnarauskis (S) $1,000
49th Senate - Central IL = $1,629,000
Jeff Richey (R) $274,000
Deanna Demuzio (D) $1,355,000
34th Senate - Rockford = $1,155,000
Dave Syverson (R) $682,000
Dan Lewandowski (D) $473,000
42nd Senate - Aurora/Plainfield = $1,111,000
Terri Wintermute (R) $501,000
Linda Holmes (D) $610,000
22nd Senate - NW Suburbs = $1,039,000

Billie Roth (R) $475,000
Michael Noland (D) $564,000
107th House - Centralia = $1,605,000
John Cavaletto (R) $558,000
Kurt Granberg (D) $1,047,000
92nd House - Peoria = $1,356,000
Aaron Schock (R) $884,000
Bill Spears (D) $471,000
91st House - Peoria = $1,329,000
Daryl Dagit (R) $482,000
Mike Smith (D) $847,000
71st House - Quad Cities = $1,101,000
Steven Haring (R) $368,000
Mike Boland (D) $773,000
101st House - Decatur = $952,000
Dick Cain (R) $347,000
Robert Flider (D) $606,000

In contrast to the hyper-expensive, targeted contests, most legislative races throughout the state are dominated by a single candidate who will far outspend any opponent they may have. Almost half of all House races are uncontested, meaning that voters have no choice when they arrive at the polling booth. Many of those that are contested are not seriously challenged, as Illinois’ legislative map, drawn by a partisan Commission, discourages competition. The vast majority of incumbent legislators will be returned to office with little or no opposition.

In statewide races, Democrats continue their financial dominance. Even as one poll shows the gubernatorial race to be a dead heat, Gov. Rod Blagojevich enjoys a three-to-one fundraising advantage. Most of the money raised by statewide candidates has come in very large increments from donors who gave more than $10,000. Contributions of this size are banned in most other states and for all federal candidates. Because Illinois law places no restrictions on giving, some candidates have become reliant on very large donors.

Statewide Candidates
(Cash on hand June 30 plus fundraising totals from July 1 through November 2 9am)
Governor = $22,315,000
Rod Blagojevich (D) $16,572,000
Judy Baar Topinka (R) $5,714,000
Rich Whitney (G) $29,000
Atty General = $3,029,000
Lisa Madigan (D) $2,935,000
Stewart Umholtz (R) $94,000
David Black (G) No committee
Secy of State = $3,335,000
Jesse White (D) $2,414,000
Dan Rutherford (R) $920,000
Karen “Young” Peterson (G) No committee
Comptroller = $1,445,000
Dan Hynes (D) $1,265,000
Carole Pankau (R) $179,000
Alicia Snyder (G) No committee
Treasurer = $3,678,000
Alexi Giannoulias (D) $2,808,000
Christine Radogno (R) $869,000
Dan Rodriguez Schlorff (G) No committee

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest organization conducting research and advocating reforms to promote public participation in government, address the role of money in politics and encourage integrity, accountability and transparency in government. The late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon founded ICPR in 1997.

The Sunshine Project is based at the University of Illinois at Springfield and is funded by the Joyce Foundation. Its goal is to increase public awareness and understanding of the role of money in Illinois politics.

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