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CHICAGO — Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, a Democrat who is seeking election to the state’s highest court, is the only candidate to run unopposed for the top court in about 30 years. Attorneys attributed the lack of rivals to her well-regarded legal career and campaign stockpile of more than $800,000. Illinois political savvy runs in the family too, given her husband Ed Burke’s experience as a Chicago City Council alderman. “She’s been on the appellate court before, active in civic affairs, has a great judicial temperament and all the requisite intelligence that anyone could want in a supreme court justice,” said Jack McCarthy, chairman of Chicago-based Bell, Boyd & Lloyd and a contributor to her campaign. Burke’s campaign committee is slowing its fund drive and considering using some money to support other Democratic candidates, said John B. Simon, a Jenner & Block attorney who is chairman of the committee. Candidates for the single open seat on the seven-member Illinois high court had to declare their intent to run by Nov. 5 this year, ahead of the Feb. 5, 2008 primary and Nov. 4, 2008 general election. She’s the only candidate to be unopposed for either election since at least 1978. Burke is seeking the seat allotted to the First Appellate District, which has the same borders as Cook County and includes Chicago. Illinois is one of 21 states that elect judges to the top court while other states appoint them, according to the non-profit Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts. Burke was appointed to the court last year to fill the seat of retiring Justice Mary Ann G. McMorrow and previously served on the Illinois Appellate Court for 12 years after being appointed in 1995. She was appointed as general counsel to the governor for child welfare services in 1994 and was the first female judge on the Illinois Court of Claims in 1987. By the end of last June, her campaign committee had raised $783,765 from 445 contributors, according to required disclosures with the Illinois State Board of Elections. The committee will report in January how much it added to that total in the second half of the year. So, far she’s spent $37,890, the report said. “If she raises substantial amounts of money that may deter people from jumping into the race,” said Northwestern University School of Law Professor Robert Bennett. While her war chest is a fraction of the record $4.5 million spent by each of the two 2004 candidates whose race was tied to a battle over tort reform, it falls between the sums spent by each of two competing candidates in 2002, according to a board report. Attorneys who contributed to Burke’s campaign include some from Winston & Strawn; Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal; Freeborn & Peters; Fuchs & Roselli; Cooney & Conway; and Goldberg Kohn Bell Black Rosenbloom & Moritz, among others, according to the committee’s report.

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