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Rate the new All for Justice TV ad

Monday, Oct 3, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

The labor union and trial lawyer-backed All for Justice independent expenditure committee has so far reported raising $3.5 million, with, I’m told, at least another $5 million in pledges. The committee’s sole purpose is to back the two Democratic candidates running for the Illinois Supreme Court: Appellate Justice Mary K. O’Brien and Judge Elizabeth Rochford. And its spending is finally beginning.

A press release claimed “an initial [advertising] buy of $3 million dollars,” with “plans to spend millions more informing residents of the 2nd and 3rd districts of these extremists on the ballot.”

The ad features a woman emphasizing that just “one seat” on the Illinois Supreme Court could imperil or preserve abortion rights.

“Mark Curran and Michael Burke want to ban abortion in Illinois, even in cases of rape and incest. Women put in jail for making their own medical decisions? That’s not what I want for my kids. That’s not what I want for anyone. Mark Curran and Michael Burke are too extreme and they don’t belong on the Illinois Supreme Court.”

The ad will almost surely face legal opposition. The Illinois Republican Party made a big deal last week about a similar TV ad aired by Supreme Court Justice Burke’s Democratic opponent, Appellate Justice O’Brien.

The Illinois GOP demanded that O’Brien take down the ad, which claims, “Mike Burke says he agreed with the decision to overturn Roe. He’s supported by the extreme groups that want to ban all abortion for Illinois women.”

Burke is backed by anti-abortion groups. The first sentence in that excerpt, however, is hotly disputed by the Republican Party, which claims Justice Burke, “has not expressed any opinion on that issue or any issue that may come before the Illinois Supreme Court.”

Justice O’Brien’s campaign, in reply, pointed to Burke’s attendance at an important Illinois right to life banquet. Burke said this year that, like the U.S. Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, he too is a constitutional “originalist,” meaning he refers back to the original drafting of the Constitution rather than subsequent court rulings when making a decision. He also noted that abortion is “not an enumerated right” in either the Illinois or the U.S. constitutions.

It’s very difficult to legally force a TV station to take down a candidate’s advertisement. But, as we’ve seen in the past few weeks with Dan Proft’s People Who Play by the Rules PAC ads for Darren Bailey, it’s not nearly as difficult to force an independent expenditure committee to prove the truthfulness of what it’s saying in its ads or see them yanked.

Time will tell if the new All for Justice ad stays up.

Meanwhile, the opposition research is starting to come out on Curran. My associate Isabel Miller posted some of it on last week, but expect more to emerge on topics like Curran’s comments about the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection (the police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt should resign, he said) and on gay rights (Curran said at a rally opposing a same-sex marriage bill that the law would “result in the loss of liberty for those opposed to same-sex marriage”).

And, of course, there’s abortion. Curran has attended anti-abortion rallies, donated some of his own campaign funds last year to Illinois Citizens for Life and praised Donald Trump for appointing Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade, among other things.

Curran is also the former longtime sheriff of Lake County, which is fully in the 2nd Supreme Court District, and he may still have some residual name recognition from his 2020 race for U.S. Senate, which Curran lost to Dick Durbin 55% to 39%.

Money-wise, the Supreme Court races started about even in July, as far as the candidates were concerned. But that has changed considerably in the past month or so.

Democratic Justice O’Brien has since reported raising almost $1.6 million to Justice Burke’s $13,000. Democratic Judge Rochford has reported raising $742,000 to the Republican Curran’s $137K, much of it from his family.

The Ken Griffin-funded Citizens for Judicial Fairness independent expenditure committee had more than $5.5 million in the bank at last check. It is not expected to help Curran, but is expected to jump in for Justice Burke. The Firewall Project, which is raising money to back Republicans for the Supreme Court and Greg Hart for DuPage County Board Chair, has reported raising $440,000 in the past few weeks.

But the Democrat-affiliated All for Justice independent expenditure committee is hoping to have a budget of as much as $8 million to $10 million by election day. So stay tuned.

Subscribers know the latest developments in that race.

* The full AFJ press release…

Today, the independent expenditure committee All for Justice (AFJ) placed its first buy for the General Election Cycle with the ad “One Seat.”

The ad highlights Republican Supreme Court candidates Justice Michael Burke and Mark Curran’s terrifying records on women’s reproductive rights. All for Justice is placing an initial buy of $3 million dollars and plans to spend millions more informing residents of the 2nd and 3rd districts of these extremists on the ballot.

“If elected, Burke and Curran would be a catastrophe for Illinois. They would follow the anti-choice extremist orthodoxy, that individuals should not have control over their bodies or their future. We cannot let these men strip people of their reproductive rights. The goal of All for Justice is to communicate the truth about Burke and Curran,” said Rianne Hawkins, Director of Campaigns and Advocacy with Planned Parenthood Illinois Action IE PAC who is advising AFJ on strategy.

Justice Michael Burke faces Justice Mary Kay O’Brien in the 3rd District, which includes DuPage, Will, Grundy, LaSalle, Bureau, Livingston, Iroquois, and Kankakee Counties. Mark Curran faces Judge Elizabeth Rochford, in the 2nd District, which includes Lake, McHenry, Kane, Kendall and DeKalb counties.

* The ad

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  1. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 9:30 am:

    Great ad message-wise, but a little confusing because it’s negatively targeting two candidates, for one seat. One seat may make the difference, but it’s two seats that are being contested. A-

  2. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 9:47 am:

    Rate it an A/D the production quality is high and if the claims were valid it would be a powerful ad. However, the ad is misleading one new R-backed justice will do nothing to abortion access in Illiois. The Illinois Reproductive Health Act signed into law on June 12, 2019 guarantees access. Additionally, the ILGA has a huge Dem majority that is pro-abortion. Hence the D rating.

  3. - New Day - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 9:51 am:

    “Great ad message-wise, but a little confusing because it’s negatively targeting two candidates, for one seat. One seat may make the difference, but it’s two seats that are being contested. A-”

    Had the exact same reaction and give it the same grade.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 10:11 am:

    ===the ad is misleading one new R-backed justice will do nothing to abortion access in Illiois. The Illinois Reproductive Health Act signed into law on June 12, 2019 guarantees access.===

    Truly an utterly phony take.

    If it doesn’t matter, than any judge at any level of the judiciary would always-always defer to the legislative, and yet abortion was overturned by judicial “wiggle room” allegedly left that 4 justices specifically said never existed during confirmation hearings.


    Then every Republican elected official should just be “pro-choice”… the fight is over, amirite?

    Any Republican running should be seen as a clear danger to women’s health, and anything else is a ph y attempt to fool voters by “it’s already decided”… it’s not, it’s only decided for this moment.

    To the ad,

    It’s a B

    Gotta make perfectly clear, Republicans are dangerous to women’s health. Full stop, simple and clear is always better, no need to over talk it.

  5. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 10:19 am:

    “yet abortion was overturned by judicial”

    If overturned you mean decisions about abortion were returned to states you are correct. And as I stated abortion access in Illinois is protected by law and a pro-abortion Super-majority.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 10:27 am:

    === If overturned you mean…===

    Women living in fear because they live in a Red state where Republicans now can force a child to carry a pregnancy to term, rape and incest victims being required to have a pregnancy for their rapists… forcing a woman to have a pregnancy that might kill her as part of “God’s plan”

    You mean that kind of “states’ rights”

    That might be an even more ridiculously callous way to look at women’s health and safety.

    You’d think a woman should feel safe no matter where they live… like it was for, say, 50 years

  7. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 10:34 am:

    === Illinois is protected by law and a pro-abortion Super-majority.===

    Then Republicans in Illinois should give up, never run anyone, they (Republicans) will never regain any office of any significance… ever.

    Do you see how ridiculous that position is too, no?

    You’ve surrendered any opportunities for changes.

    To the ad,

    I’m not saying I’ve believed since March that abortion would be a big deal. I’m not saying that. I am saying that if you look at any judiciary as bystanders to abortion to legislative acts, you’re probably too naive to understand why McConnell has been focused on judicial appointments for an embarrassingly long time

  8. - Amalia - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 11:00 am:

    B One seat and two races is confusing, and I’m not a fan of the woman delivering the message, but the message does come through.

  9. - MisterJayEm - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:50 pm:

    “one new R-backed justice will do nothing to abortion access in Illiois. The Illinois Reproductive Health Act signed into law on June 12, 2019 guarantees access.”

    This claptrap might have been believable before the the U.S. Supreme Court’s GOP majority in Dobbs recklessly bucked stare decisis and overturned the 50-year precedent of “the law of the land” — not my words describing Roe, their words at their confirmation hearings.

    Today, nothing is clearer than this: “settled law” doesn’t mean a damn thing to a GOP-majority court.

    – MrJM

  10. - Shytown - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 3:38 pm:

    I’ll give it a B- for some of the same reasons – message wise it’s good, but it’s confusing with the one seat, two races. Someone should have finessed that better.

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