SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Two former Illinois politicians have formed a bipartisan campaign committee to urge residents to vote against Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride's retention.
Former U.S. Transportation Secretary and Congressman Ray LaHood joined former state lawmaker and political commentator Jim Nowlan to discuss their goals for "Citizens for Judicial Fairness."
They feel Kilbride has been a "puppet" for House Speaker Mike Madigan over the last 20 years. The group claims he received more than $4 million from Madigan political committees during his first two campaigns.
"This is Illinois's opportunity, particularly in the 3rd judicial district, to knock Tom Kilbride off the Supreme Court and allow for some new blood, some new thinking, and a new way of doing things in Illinois and not be tied to politicians," LaHood said.
A challenge to redistricting
LaHood and Nowlan say their committee can help restore faith in the Supreme Court. They believe Kilbride has "consistently made decisions" siding with Madigan. For example, Kilbride blocked a grassroots effort behind the Fair Maps amendment for nonpartisan redistricting. The Supreme Court decision significantly helped Madigan shape the maps in favor of Democrats. With redistricting on the line again, Nowlan says it's time for change.
"Next year, any challenge to a Madigan-drawn map will have to go to the state Supreme Court," Nowlan added. "And if it's 4-3 Democratic, it will simply reject any challenges to the map."
Their committee currently has $302,500 but Nowlan says they will continue to raise money to offset the millions already coming in to support Kilbride. The Democrat must receive 60% of the vote to retain his seat on the court. A Republican could win the seat during an election in 2022 as the district has leaned more to the right over the last 10 years.
"People recognize Kilbride's name, but they also recognize Madigan's name. They know that Madigan has been there too long. They know that Madigan has ruined Illinois," LaHood added. "And they know that Madigan is under investigation by the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago, and the Department of Justice. So who does Kilbride report to? Not the constitution of Illinois. Kilbride reports directly to Speaker Madigan."