'Neighbors' make all the difference in Wexstten victory

Steve Korris Feb. 7, 2008, 12:31am


MOUNT VERNON – James Wexstten's neighbors returned a ringing verdict in his favor Feb. 5, choosing him by four and five to one over Judy Cates in his successful bid for the Democratic nomination to run for the Fifth District appellate court in November.

Seventy-six percent of Jefferson County Democrats voted for Wexstten, of Mount Vernon, as he earned a chance to win a full term in a seat he holds by appointment.

He carried every precinct in the county, and four precincts in Mount Vernon picked him five to one.

In the city's three busiest precincts they picked him four to one, with tallies of 496 to 117, 342 to 76, and 304 to 77.

Countywide, Wexstten collected 5,418 votes to 1,672 for Cates.

Voters in adjacent counties also registered their approval.

Wexstten scored 69 percent in Hamilton County, 63 percent in Franklin, 59 percent in Washington, 58 percent in Wayne, 57 percent in Marion, and 56 percent in Perry.

In all, Jefferson County and its neighbors cast 18,203 votes for Wexstten and 10,112 for Cates, or 64 percent to 36.

Their support guaranteed victory, because Wexstten roughly broke even in the other 30 counties of the vast Fifth District.

The district extends 190 miles south to north, from Cairo almost to Decatur.

It extends 150 miles west to east, from Godfrey to Robinson.

Overall, Wexstten received 92,002 votes and Cates received 83,069.

Cates carried her home county, St. Clair, and its neighbor, Madison, but not by the margins she needed.

She scored 51 percent in St. Clair, 52 percent in Madison.

St. Clair and Madison together gave her a disappointing surplus of 2,158 votes, an advantage that Jefferson County overcame alone with votes to spare.

Her appeal faded as she hunted for rural votes.

Among six counties that border St. Clair and Madison, only Bond County picked Cates.

Likewise, Cates successfully pitched for votes in Carbondale and Effingham but could not draw as much support from surrounding communities.

She won almost 60 percent in Effingham County but she slipped to 53 percent east of there, in Clay and Jasper, and 49 percent to the west, in Fayette and Shelby.

Cates carried Jackson County, home of Southern Illinois University, but just barely. The county cast 3,586 votes for Cates and 3,515 for Wexstten.

She carried none of the counties that border Jackson.

Voters at the southern tip of Illinois backed Cates, with Massac standing out as the only county above 60 percent in her column.

Wexstten, on top of big wins in coal towns of Franklin and Perry counties near his home, racked up big margins in other counties with lots of coal in their veins.

He scored 64 percent in Montgomery County, 58 percent in Randolph and 55 percent in Williamson.

Votes by county blocks:
Marion, Wayne, Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, Perry, Washington:
Wexstten: 18,203 (64%)
Cates: 10,112 (36%)

St. Clair, Madison:
Cates: 38,140 (51%)
Wexstten: 35,982 (49%)

28 other counties below a line that follows the northern boundaries of Montgomery, Christian, Shelby, Effingham, Jasper, Crawford:
Wexstten: 37,817 (52%)
Cates: 34,817 (48%)

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