An infusion of cash into Democrat Zina Cruse's campaign for circuit judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit doesn't come close to rival Anne Fohne Keeley's self-funded crusade, but the names of Cruse's contributors reads sort of like a "who's who" list.
Cruse and Fohne Keeley are seeking to fill outgoing Circuit Judge Milton Wharton's seat. Wharton, of East St. Louis, is retiring at the end of his term in December.
Cruse, an associate judge in St. Clair County, has been endorsed by the county Democrat Party over Fohne Keeley, an assistant state's attorney from Smithton.
Fohne Keeley has contributed $85,000 to her campaign, compared to $21,000 in contributions Cruse has received from local lawyers and politicians, as well as two of Chicago's top personal injury lawyers or firms.
Todd Smith of Power Rogers & Smith and Clifford Law Offices of Chicago each gave Cruse $1,000.
Belleville attorney Rhonda Fiss contributed $5,000 to Cruse.
St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern and St. Clair County Circuit Judge Bob Haida each gave Cruse $1,000.
Judy Cates's campaign committee gave Cruse $1,000. Cates, a personal injury and class action attorney from Swansea, is seeking election to the Fifth District Appellate Court.
Former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael O'Malley gave Cruse $1,000.
Cruse presides in the court's Family Division.
Fohne Keeley's campaign has railed against politics in the courts.
"Our Courts must be focused on upholding the law and free from political influence," she states on her website.
On the Republican ticket for Wharton's vacancy is Associate Judge Laninya Cason, who switched party affiliation after a falling out with the Democratic Party in St. Clair County.
Cason, who has been an associate judge since 2003, will go on to challenge Cruse or Keeley in the general election.