With three weeks left until the General Election, the race for the Fifth District Appellate Court appears to be on track to become one of Illinois’ most expensive judicial elections this year.
Swansea attorney Judy Cates and her Republican opponent, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn, brought in more than $215,000 in donations between July 1 and Sept. 30, according to quarterly reports filed this month with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
In addition, the two candidates’ campaign committees received nearly $58,800 in the form of transfers from political action committees (PACs), unions and area political committees, bringing the race’s total to about $273,000 as of late last month.
Cates’ committee reported $177,460 in contributions and transfers, about five times more than the $38,430 McGlynn’s campaign committee reported during the same three-month period.
In comparison, the candidates running for the Cook County seat on the Illinois Supreme Court brought in about $43,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30.
The vast majority of that amount can be attributed to Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis, who has been sitting on the court since her 2010 appointment. Her Republican challenger, Cook County Circuit Judge James Riley, received $100 in non-itemized contributions, records show.
While Cates and McGlynn brought in more money than candidates for the state high court in the last reporting period, they still have a long way to go before passing the level of donations they collected in their previous appellate court bids, both of which were unsuccessful.
In 2006, McGlynn and Bruce Stewart collectively raised more than $3 million in the race that Stewart won. Two years later, Cates and James Wexstten put more than $1 million into their campaigns for the primary election that Wexstten won.
Like both of their past bids, several of their big-dollar donations in this year’s race for the Fifth District have come from trial lawyers and business groups.
Cates received dozens of donations from trial lawyers including $45,000 from the Simmons law firm in Alton and nine of its asbestos lawyers, between July 1 and Sept. 30. She is a past president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association.
Records also show that Cates received about $28,000 in transfers from several local political groups, including the Democratic committees or organizations representing Belleville and Crawford, Fayette and Monroe counties.
During the same period, McGlynn’s committee received several donations from area businesses and leaders, as well as at least a handful of defense lawyers and firms.
His committee reported $30,000 in transfers from the political actions committees of the State Medical Society and the Illinois Civil Justice League. He also received the endorsement of the Illinois Chamber.
When it came to campaign expenditures in the Fifth District race, records show that Cates spent about three times more than McGlynn did during the last reporting period.
Cates’ committee reported nearly $122,540 in expenditures between July 1 and Sept. 30. McGlynn’s committee reported spending nearly $36,000.
Records show that Cates’ campaign committee spent about $65,000 on postage, printing and mailing; nearly $30,000 on signs; and about $9,000 on promotional items and T-shirts.
It spent slightly more than $30,000 on polling and robo-calls; $15,000 for a campaign manager; nearly $9,400 for newspaper and television advertising; and about $4,800 on campaign-related events and fundraisers.
In addition, Cates’ quarterly report shows her campaign committee paid about $2,000 for meals and food for fundraisers; about $1,970 on travel and $1,960 on candy for area parades between July 1 and Sept. 30.
During the same three-month period, McGlynn’s committee reported about $36,000 in expenditures.
Records show his committee spent about $11,630 on signs and banners and paid his campaign manager slightly more than $10,000 for consulting, mileage and other reimbursements.
In addition, McGlynn’s quarterly report shows his committee spent $8,600 on printing, mailing, brochures and other promotional items, as well as about $550 on food for fundraisers.
As of Sept. 30, Cates’ committee had close to $130,000 and McGlynn’s committee had about $51,000.
Since then, records show that Cates has received about $21,000 in donations and McGlynn’s committee has reported about $13,000 in contributions.