ICJL’s Weekly Report has featured the races for the Cook County Appellate, Circuit and Subcircuits for February 5th’s primary election. In this final, we feature the primary races for downstate Appellate and Circuit seats. There are 106 judicial candidates running in Cook County this spring. A total of 79 judicial candidates are running in the other 101 Illinois counties. However, some of the most interesting primary storylines this year are found in places like the Fifth Appellate District and Will County.
As always, the Illinois Civil Justice League encourages its readers to check out the full judicial profiles in these competitions, including links to biographies and answers to the ICJL questionnaire, all available at www.IllinoisJudges.net.
Fifth District Appellate: The revelation that a candidate loaned herself $670,000 in her run for Appellate Court hit the pages of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin this week. It’s not the first headline about judicial campaign fundraising in the state’s southern-most Appellate district.
Longtime Democrat Judge James Wexstten is battling personal injury lawyer Judy Cates. Cates, the immediate past president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, is doing little fundraising, financing most of the race from her personal fortune. Wexstten, a past president of the Illinois Judges Association, has more than $400,000 in donations from a broad and diverse collection of doctors, plaintiffs’ lawyers, insurance interests and labor unions.
Wexstten, who served nearly three terms as a Circuit Court Judge in Mt. Vernon, outscored Cates in the ISBA poll. Cates was found “Not Recommended” by the judicial advisory poll with a score of 51.52. Wexstten scored an 89.33 and was found “Recommended.” Cates’ scored an 88.22 in legal ability, yet scored 46.81 in “impartiality.” A separate evaluations committee found both candidates “qualified.”
Wexstten has been endorsed by numerous law enforcement, medical, party, and union organizations and representatives. Cates has stated she is not seeking endorsements, and she has received none.
Wexstten also has been endorsed by the Chicago Tribune, the only major newspaper to endorse in the contest as of Sunday, January 27.
Cates has spent much time in Springfield the past few General Assembly sessions lobbying on behalf of ITLA legislation – and against legislation supported by legal reform advocates. In fact, a Madison County photo of her speaking opposite Glen Amundsen and State Representative Renee Kosel is displayed on Cates’ website. Both candidates’ websites feature their TV commercials. Chances are that several more headlines make it into the ICJL News Update before February 5th.
Complete Analysis Of Downstate Judicial Races Here.
-- Al Adomite
Illinois Civil Justice League
January 28, 2008