After a costly, grueling battle for the state's highest court, Washington County Circuit Judge Lloyd Karmeier is the 5th Judicial Illinois Supreme Court victor.
Karmeier declared victory from his hometown of Nashville, where supporters gathered for an election night celebration at the American Legion Hall. With approximately 85 percent of polls reporting, Karmeier easily defeated 5th Appellate Court Judge Gordon E. Maag, leading 256,491 to 215,984 votes.
Twenty pounds lighter than he was from the start of the campaign, Karmeier expressed relief that the long and treacherous ride was over.
“I’ve traveled over 50,000 miles and missed some family things, but they’ve been very supportive,” Karmeier said. “Mary (Mrs. Karmeier) has traveled with me and we’ve spent a lot of quality time together.”
While the world watched the contentious race become the most expensive state supreme court race in U.S. history, Karmeier believes his mandate is to “do the right thing.”
“Unfortunately there was the huge money and negative ads. But those who know me know that I have a duty to the people, not to partisan concerns.”
Karmeier was able to easily defeat his rival in a district that has more registered Democrats than Republicans. Of the 37 counties in the district, Karmeier won 31. None were perhaps more critical than the battleground in Madison County, where Karmeier won 57 percent of the vote.
The newly elected justice, who will be sworn into office on Dec. 6, believes he won the district because voters perceived him as the most qualified candidate.
“There was also a perception that Madison County courts are financed by trial attorneys who also finance appellate and supreme courts. The people felt it was not working right.
“The medical crisis, with doctors leaving the area, also played a role,” he added.
While the Illinois Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the $10.1 billion judgement against Phillip Morris on Nov. 10, Karmeier will be busy presiding over jury trials where he is a circuit judge in Washington County.
“Of course I wouldn’t comment on what the Supreme Court does, but I will be looking at that,” he said.
Maag, who was also on the general election ballot for retention to the 5th Judicial Appellate Court, must have 60 percent “yes” votes to keep his seat.
Karmeier said he had not talked to Maag after the election.