James Wexstten fended off rival Democrat Judy Cates to retain his seat as appellate judge of the Fifth Judicial District.
Voters in the state's 37 southern-most counties picked incumbent Wexstten, who has served a year on the appellate court, following a well-funded primary battle.
With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Wexstten held a 53% to 47% lead over Cates; or 82,949 to 73,754 votes.
In Madison County with all 233 precincts reporting, Cates, however, led Wexstten by 1,255 votes -- 18,649 to 17,394.
When contacted late in the evening, Wexstten said he was very proud of the victory. He said the campaign's goal was to stay even with his opponent in the Metro-East which proved to be the result. He also expressed gratitude for all who supported his election.
In the end, reports will show that close to $1.5 million was spent on the race which each candidate helped personally finance.
Cates put up more than $775,000; Wexstten nearly $175,000.
Wexstten, of Mount Vernon, was appointed in January 2007 by the Illinois Supreme Court, on the recommendation of Justice Lloyd Karmeier, to fill a vacancy left by Judge Terrence Hopkins who died in October 2006. Before that Wexstten had served more than 18 years as a circuit judge in the Second Circuit.
Cates, of Belleville, is a personal injury lawyer and past president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.
The winner of the primary is expected to win November's general election since there is no Republican challenger running for the seat.
Wexstten had received endorsements from southern Illinois law enforcement officials, physicians and Democratic party officials. His campaign contributions came from a variety of sources including plaintiff's attorneys, defense attorneys, labor organizations and the Illinois State Medical Society, in particular.
Cates invested heavily in media, saturating the airwaves with her message that politics has no place in the courtroom.