Democratic Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride conceded late Tuesday and will not get another 10-year term after falling short of the 60% support he needed to stay on the court.
Voters in 21 counties, including Will County and a swath of north-central Illinois stretching from Rock Island through Joliet gave the justice just 56% of their support, according to the Associated Press, with 98% of precincts reporting.
“Though votes continue to be counted, I am disappointed in the apparent outcome,” Kilbride said in a statement. “I want to thank the voters of the Third Judicial District for twice placing their faith in me to uphold the sacred principles that guide our judicial system. Serving on the Illinois Supreme Court has been the honor and privilege of my lifetime, and I am proud of the legacy I will leave behind, including a court that is more open, transparent and accessible to all, regardless of economic means.”
Kilbride had faced well-funded opposition from Republicans who objected to some of his past decisions and his ties to Illinois House Speaker and state Democratic Party chair Michael Madigan. And he was running in what has become a more Republican-dominated area, which was largely carried by President Donald Trump in 2016.
Kilbride’s defeat is rare for an incumbent injustice. Judicial retention campaigns like his have favored incumbents 19 times since 1970.
His defeat has larger potential implications for the historically Democratically-controlled Supreme Court. A second Supreme Court justice race to replace retiring Republican Justice Lloyd Karmeier appears to overwhelmingly favor Republican David Overstreet, giving the GOP the potential to overtake the court in two years when a race to replace Kilbride will occur.