Metro-East plaintiff lawyers are making a big difference in a couple of competitive state races—including the contest for Illinois governor and House District 112.

Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn, who is lagging in the polls behind Republican challenger Bill Brady, received sizable campaign contributions from numerous area lawyers, according to campaign finance records released on Monday. The biggest one, at $25,000, came from the East Alton asbestos firm Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd.

Other big donors for Quinn include $10,000 each from Becker Paulson Hoerner & Thompson of Belleville, Thomas C. Rich of Fairview Heights and Carey & Danis of St. Louis.

Lance Callis of Granite City gave Quinn $5,000; Becker Schroader & Chapman of Granite City gave him $2,000; the Gavin Law Firm in Belleville gave $1,000.

Brad Lakin gave Quinn $1,000. Bruce Cook, Bernard Ysursa and Greg Shevlin of Belleville gave Quinn $1,000 each.

Of lesser note, James Wexstten, a justice of the Fifth District Appellate Court, gave Quinn $200.

Real Clear Politics website shows that an average of various polls gives Brady a 2.6 point advantage. Rasmussen, the most recent poll conducted, shows Brady with a 6 point lead.

In the 112th State House race, in which Republican Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon is trying to keep Democrat State Rep. Jay Hoffman of Collinsville from winning an 11th election, asbestos attorneys play a prominent role.

Attorney Randy Gori gave Hoffman a $20,000 individual contribution; Gori's partner Barry Julian gave Hoffman $17,500; the Edwardsville firm Gori Julian & Associates gave $2,500.

Goldenberg Heller Antognoli & Rowland of Edwardsville gave Hoffman $1,000.

And, the Simmons firm gave a significant contribution of $20,000.

An article in the National Law Journal on Oct. 19 points to the importance of trial lawyers in Democratic races across the country. It names the Simmons firm as one of the biggest contributors to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"On the national level, lawyers' contributions are helping to prop up Democratic campaigns that could be key to determining control of Congress," the article states. "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. counts three plaintiffs' firms among his top five contributors by employer, according to the Center for Responsive Politics: Weitz & Luxenberg of New York, Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd of East Alton, Ill., and Girardi Keese of Los Angeles."

The Center for Responsive Politics indicates on its website that the Simmons firm is Reid's third top contributor from 2005-2010, exceeded only by MGM Resorts (at number one) and asbestos firm Weitz & Luxenberg (at number two).

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