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State of Illinois

Judicial Campaigns and Elections: Illinois

Campaign Financing

A law was passed in 2009 imposing the first-ever limits on campaign contributions to judicial candidates. Limits were set at $125,000 for candidates in the first judicial district and at $75,000 for candidates in all other districts. The limits apply to contributions from individuals, businesses, and special interest groups in both the primary and general elections, but only apply to contributions from political leaders and leadership committees in the primaries.

Between 1990 and 2000, combined spending by supreme court candidates in Illinois increased 37%, and primary election spending grew by 132%. In 2000, candidates for three seats spent more than $8 million, and in 2002, candidates for a single seat spent over $2.2 million. In 2004, candidates for a single seat broke a national record for fundraising in a contested judicial race, raising $9.3 million between them and exceeding total contributions in 18 of 34 U.S. Senate races that year.

In 2008, the Midwest Democracy Network and the Justice at Stake Campaign released a report on recent judicial elections in five Midwestern states, including Illinois. Click here to read “The New Politics of Judicial Elections in the Great Lakes States, 2000-2008.”

See below for National Institute on Money in State Politics data on contributions to state high court candidates.

Amounts raised by each candidate at the most recent election cycle:

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