Despite efforts to derail the Republican Fifth District Appellate Court candidates’ campaigns with lawyer-funded attack ads, the Republican candidates were elected to the bench by roughly 10 percent margins with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.
For the vacancy created through the retirement of Bruce Stewart, Madison County Circuit Judge John Barberis lead with a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. Barberis has received 305,727 votes, while Williamson County Circuit Judge Brad Bleyer has received 238,255 votes.
Barberis could not be reached for comment.
For the vacancy created by James Wexstten, Justice James “Randy” Moore lead with a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent. Moore received 296,236 votes, while Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jo Beth Weber received 251,963 votes.
"Today I am overflowing with gratefulness and appreciation," Moore stated on his campaign's Facebook page. "I thank God for blessing me in more ways than I can count. I thank my family for standing by my side and supporting me. I thank the many volunteers who devoted so much time and effort to help me succeed.
"And I thank the voters of the 5th district of Illinois who placed their trust in me. I am truly humbled. I appreciate the faith they placed in me and the opportunity to serve them in this position. I will always strive to be fair, impartial, just, and worthy of this great honor they have so graciously given me."
The Fair Courts Now PAC was formed in mid-October to oppose the Republican candidates and was funded mostly by asbestos firms. The campaign also received money from plaintiff’s firms, court reporters and Texas firms.
Fair Courts Now received a total of $1,077,500 in contributions to date.
Weber was the only candidate to receive contributions from some of the same firms that funded Fair Courts Now.
Weber made a statement on her campaign's Facebook page Wednesday.
"Even though I lost when the votes were totaled in 37 counties, it was a big win in my own area where people know me best. That means so much to me! I just want to say thank you to all of my volunteers and supporters," the post states.
"And I met so many wonderful new friends and people on this journey. You worked so hard to help me in this election, and I appreciate each and every one of you for your efforts on my behalf because you believed in me to be a fair and impartial judge. As you all know, I love my job as a circuit judge, and I will continue to work hard and serve all of you as I always have--and hopefully change a lot of peoples' lives. Today, I am where God wants me to be. And I know that He knows what is best for each and every one of us. Now the hard work begins--losing the extra 15 pounds I gained after campaigning for 20 months and eating fried chicken at almost every function! Lol. Thanks again to all of you for your encouragement and support. I truly appreciate you!"
Weber received 11,177 votes in Jefferson County, or 68 percent of the votes.