The Democratic Party of Illinois has kicked in $1.25 million over the past several months for the retention of Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride, campaign finance records show.
Facing an anti-retention effort waged largely by the Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL), Kilbride's campaign raised a total of $1,868,880.46 between July 1 and Oct. 3, according to a pre-election report filed Monday night. Unions also supplied a large portion of that total.
In the meantime, ICJL's political action committee, JUSTPAC, raised $165,500 during the same period of time.
JUSTPAC's single largest contribution of $50,000 came from the American Tort Reform Association. Other contributions came from business and medical interests.
Kilbride must get at least 60 percent voter approval in the state's 3rd Judicial District to be retained to a second 10-year term. The district stretches from Rock Island County in the northwest to Kankakee County in the southeast.
Kilbride is one of four justices who voted in February in favor of overturning the state's medical malpractice law.
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, Kilbride became a prime election target for the medical and business communities.
The effort to derail Kilbride's retention also is motivated by a desire to achieve a more politically balanced court ahead of next year's legislative redistricting effort, a political process that occurs every 10 years after a U.S. census is conducted. Kilbride is a Democrat.
The court is split 4-3, Democrat to Republican.
No Illinois Supreme Court justice has ever lost a retention race.