Kilbride trying to act Republican in order to win, party says

John O'Brien Oct. 31, 2010, 12:58pm


CHICAGO - Illinois' Republican Party says state Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride wants to trick voters into thinking he's a member of the GOP.

State GOP Chairman Paty Brady said Saturday that Kilbride is trying to portray himself as a Republican in his campaign literature. On Tuesday Kilbride faces a retention election in which he must earn 60 percent of the vote.

"This guy's masquerading as one of us, when he's being funded by Democrats," Brady said.

Kilbride has raised nearly $2.5 million for his campaign, with $1,475,000 coming from the state Democratic Party.

The Illinois Civil Justice League has led an effort to oust Kilbride. ICJL's political action committee, which has attacked Kilbride's record on jobs, crime and his vote to overturn the state's medical malpractice law, has raised more than $670,000, mainly from business interests.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which owns this publication, contributed $150,000 to the anti-retention campaign.

The Illinois GOP noted that Kilbride's latest campaign piece has an elephant, the GOP logo, and the words "Election Alert for Republicans." The GOP says he uses the word "we" multiple times in an effort to suggest he is a Republican.

"The elephant on Kilbride's campaign mailer means only one thing: He doesn't think he can be retained unless he tricks people into thinking he's a Republican," Brady said.

Well, he's not. Voters should not be fooled."

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and the Justice at Stake Campaign, has called the total spending "extraordinary" for a retention election, where only incumbents appear on the ballot and voters decide whether to grant another term.

Kilbride, one of four justices who voted in February to overturn the state's medical malpractice law, is the only one among those jurists facing voters who may hold him to account for that decision.

After the 4-2 court decision, which knocked down a 2005 state law that capped non-economic "pain and suffering" damages against hospitals and doctors, trial lawyers cheered. But the decision also made Kilbride a prime election target for the medical and business communities.

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