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ILGOP takes aim at Kilbride

Tuesday, Aug 4, 2020

* This will matter a whole lot more if they put some resources behind their words, but Kilbride has to get to 60 percent to be successfully retained, although no party affiliation will be next to his name on the ballot…

During the most recent State Central Committee meeting of the Illinois Republican Party, the ILGOP voted unanimously to formally recommend a vote of non-retention for Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride of the 3rd Judicial District. Justice Kilbride is up for retention on the November 2020 ballot and must meet the 60% retention threshold in order to keep his seat on the Illinois Supreme Court.

The ILGOP recommends removing Kilbride from the bench because of his very close ties to corrupt House Speaker Michael Madigan. In 2010, the last time Kilbride faced retention, Mike Madigan made Kilbride’s retention one of his top political priorities because he knew Kilbride was essential to retaining his power over the Supreme Court.

    Chicago Sun-Times: “The speaker’s greatest victory, arguably, is the retention of Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride. With Madigan’s massive help, Kilbride remains on the bench, maintaining Democrats’ 4-3 majority on the court. That majority will be critical to the party in redistricting the political boundaries of this state.” (“Mr. Speaker, you’ve got work to do,” Editorial, Chicago Sun Times, Nov. 7, 2010)

    Chicago Tribune: “And Madigan elected Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride, despite a stop-Kilbride campaign, as the speaker prepares that new political map.” (“Mike Madigan wins big,” Editorial, Chicago Tribune, Nov. 4, 2010)

    Chicago Tribune: “Kilbride’s response? He has raised a whopping $2.48 million to save his job. The money is coming largely from the same sources that funded his 2000 campaign: House Speaker Michael Madigan and organized labor. The Madigan-controlled Democratic Party of Illinois has kicked in $1.42 million.” (“Kilbride & Madigan,” Editorial, Chicago Tribune, Oct. 27, 2010)

In return for millions in campaign cash from Madigan, Kilbride has reliably voted to protect Madigan’s power and sided with Madigan’s powerful allies. Kilbride ruled against term limits and struck down pension reform in spite of criticism that he took millions of dollars from those with a stake in the decision.

Worst of all, in 2016, Kilbride wrote the majority opinion striking down the citizen-led ballot (“Fair Maps”) initiative that would have given voters a say in redistricting and taken the power away from Madigan to draw gerrymander maps. The decision was all about Madigan, as evidenced from the Chicago Tribune headline immediately following the decision on August 26, 2016: “Supreme Court’s Democratic majority sides with Madigan on redistricting. Surprise!” August 26, 2016.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 1:41 pm:

    In a presidential year and no party affiliation on the ballot…good luck even getting people to notice there’s a Supreme Court race at all.

  2. - Anon - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 2:01 pm:

    Kilbride has two political advisors

    Mike Thompson

    Adam Vaught


    Enough said

  3. - Trapped in the ‘burbs - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 2:09 pm:

    If he falls short of 60%, the seat will be up for election. If the GOP can’t win the seat in a general election, it won’t really be a victory. They will have to fund the retention battle and if successful, the general election. Seems like a lot of resources being thrown at the spot.

  4. - Just the Facts - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 2:16 pm:

    The pension reform case was a unanimous decision. The term limits case, I assume they mean Johnson v. Ames, was unanimous with a concurring opinion by Justice Thomas.

    The fair maps case was a correctly decided by a majority of the court. The drafters and proponents of the fair maps amendment are to blame for the loss because they apparently didn’t know how to read the constitution and prior decisions of the court construing the applicable provisions of the constitution.

  5. - Fan - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 2:30 pm:

    For those of us old enough to remember…that race was quite simply decided by the Speaker’s involvement. He saw that Senator Carl Hawkinson and the GOP were not running an aggressive campaign (I know that shocks many that the GOP occasionally rests on its laurels and then loses seats it should win…take Terry Link, Jack Franks, Susan Garrettt as just off the top of the head examples from their first victories, but I digress) and the Dems went in full barrel and took what should have been a GOP seat. Great campaigning back then. It would be ironic if Kilbride now loses retention in part because of the Speaker.
    Win by the sword, die by the sword.

  6. - Benjamin - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 2:33 pm:

    Tying an Illinois Democrat to Madigan is easy, since he’s been around for so long and aided so many campaigns. But that also makes it hard to focus on any one player besides MJM himself. If every campaign mailer that voters see ties their local elected official to Madigan, it starts to become background noise.

  7. - Annonin' - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 2:36 pm:

    Seems like an answer to every GOPies quests
    Although Durkie described him”wildly popular” in some parts of the state.
    Guessing GOPie cash will go to keeping the tax cut

  8. - McIrish - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 4:07 pm:

    I think Kilbride’s Irish luck may have run out. His strong ties to Madigan and the millions he has received from Madigan along with Kilbride writing the 5-4 decision denying Illinois voters their constitutional right to vote on Fair Maps may end his judicial career. 60% is a steep hill to climb with this baggage.

  9. - Commisar Gritty - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 5:42 pm:

    Ya’ll ever notice that we never hear about fair maps in Republican lead states? Ya’ll ever notice how much money to Koch brothers poured into calling for this in blue states?

  10. - CubsFan16 - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 5:46 pm:

    Killbride race may be more worthy an investment for the GOP than fighting uphill in the suburbs this cycle in leg. races. A lot of ifs, but if they can knock Killbride out AND replace him on the Supreme Court, it could have a big impact on issues like map drawing, which in turn could have a big long term positive impact for the GOP.

  11. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 6:03 pm:

    Been hearing this for a while now. 39% is not insurmountable, but is the GOP so confident in the 5th District and Appellate races this year, they want to dump money into a retention.

    I’d like to see those polls.

  12. - Dark Horse - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 6:10 pm:

    McIrish, I suggest you avoid prognosticating on judicial politics until you know how many people are on the Illinois Supreme Court.

  13. - VerySmallRocks - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 7:11 pm:

    However, the sooner the Democrats grow some stones and force Madigan out, the more time they’ll have to rebuild and avoid a 2022 setback.

  14. - McIrish - Tuesday, Aug 4, 20 @ 7:19 pm:

    Dark Horse- admittedly I made a mistake and it was a 4-3 majority decision. Notwithstanding, my prediction will prove to be true. Justice Kilbride will be thrown out of office. And, the same may happen to other very powerful people. It is finally time to end the corruption and arrogance that has plagued Illinois.

  15. - Enough Already - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 7:45 am:

    So they’re going to try this one again, huh? There is an incredibly broad coalition of people, groups and interests who support retaining Kilbride, just as there was in 2010. Many opposing interests with a vested interest in keeping him there.

    The IL GOP is not well-funded nor well-organized enough to pull this off. Though 2010 was before the campaign finance limits took effect in IL (they went into effect January 2011). So those huge checks from labor, lawyers, businesses and PACs won’t be a thing this time. It will be much more labor intensive to secure that kind of funding.

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