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Money counted in the 3rd District Supreme Court race in Illinois. That’s where last-minute cash infusions seemed to especially help Democrat Tom Kilbride to snare a seat on the high court from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Carl Hawkinson. In fact, Democrats poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Kilbride’s campaign coffers in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election in the optimistic hope that they could secure a 5-2 majority on the court just in time to oversee the redrawing of the state’s legislative districts. With unofficial vote totals at 52 percent for Kilbride and 48 percent for Hawkinson, the election is also seen as a victory for the trial bar and organized labor, which apparently delivered on its promise to get workers to the polls. The far-flung 3rd District seat covers 21 counties and extends from Kankakee in the east to Rock Island in the west. A vacancy there was created when Justice James Heiple, a Republican who was hit by scandal and a particularly unpopular decision in the so-called Baby Richard case, decided earlier this year not to seek retention. Joining Kilbride from the Chicago-based 1st District will be the unopposed and popular Democrat Thomas Fitzgerald, who presides over Cook County’s criminal court. In addition, the 1st District’s controversial Justice Charles E. Freeman, a Democrat, managed to strengthen his grip on his seat for another 10-year term in the high court’s only retention election this year, despite editorials and political attacks denouncing his appointment of some lower-court judges. Some 83 percent in the unofficial count voted to keep the former chief justice and first and only black jurist on the high court. As expected, former Bears placekicker and Republican Appellate Court Justice Bob Thomas handily defeated Democrat Larry Drury for the 2nd District high court seat. Unofficial vote totals had Thomas over Drury 63 percent to 37 percent. But it was the 3rd District race that clearly was the one to watch, even though tort reform advocate Edward Murnane complained that Republicans weren’t watching closely enough. “I think definitely they were caught sleeping,” Murnane, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League, said about the Hawkinson campaign. He attributed the win to a strong turnout from organized labor and vigilant support from Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan, a lawyer-politician who directed what amounted to enough money and staff to elevate a relatively unknown general practitioner from Rock Island to the high court over Hawkinson’s political machine. Hawkinson, a lawyer for 27 years, has served 20 years in the state’s House of Representatives and the past 13 in the state’s Senate. So, it’s not surprising that a key Kilbride campaign strategy was to highlight his lack of political experience as an attribute. And while Murnane, speaking specifically of Fitzgerald and Thomas (both of whom the Civil Justice League supported), said he expects even a 5-2 court to be more fair to business interests, he acknowledged it was a blow when Hawkinson lost. “That election is going to be the most significant election in Illinois in the year 2000,” he said. “I think it can have a far-reaching impact that people don’t realize now.” APPELLATE AND TRIAL COURT RACE RESULTS On the Illinois Appellate Court, the most seriously contested race, also in the 3rd District, again went to the Democrat. According to unofficial totals, Mary W. McDade, an attorney in private practice, defeated Republican Judy Koehler, a Heiple appointee to the appeals court, by the same 52 to 48 percent margin. In the second district, former Cook County State’s Attorney John M. “Jack” O’Malley, running unopposed, was seated on the Appellate Court. And in the 1st District, Shelvin Louise Marie Hall easily defeated Republican John Joseph Coyne, 84 percent to 16 percent in unofficial results. On the circuit court side, it appeared that all judges running for retention in Illinois, including those targeted as “not recommended” by local and state bar associations, earned at least 60 percent of the vote, the required amount to keep their jobs for another six years. Downstate in the 7th Circuit, Democrat Leslie J. Graves, one of the “not recommended” judges by the Illinois State Bar Association, looked on Wednesday to have defeated her Republican challenger Roger L. Rutherford in Sangamon County. The tables turned in the other 7th Circuit race when Republican Patrick Kelly beat out Democrat Ann P. Robert for a seat on the circuit court. In the 1st Circuit, H. Wesley Wilkins, a Democrat, is believed to have lost by only a few hundred votes to his GOP challenger Mark M. Boie, while in the 2nd Circuit, Democrat George Timberlake appears to have defeated Ronald J. Giacone, a Republican. And according to unofficial vote totals, Democrats secured a circuit court post in the 4th Circuit, with Sherri L. E. Tungate defeating Republican Kevin S. Parker. In a 12th Circuit nail-biter, Democrat Thomas A. Thanas was in a dead heat with the GOP’s Daniel J. Rozak.

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