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Campaigning for Retention in Illinois

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 80 Issue: 2 Dated: (September-October 1996) Pages: 84-87
L T Aspin; W K Hall
Date Published
4 pages
This study used data on the financing of Illinois judicial retention elections to identify the factors that are empirically related to judicial campaigning.
The data set contains all six supreme court justices, 23 appellate judges, and 612 circuit judges who ran in retention elections in Illinois from 1980 through 1992. If a judge or the judge's retention committee informed the Illinois State Board of Elections that campaign money was spent, as is required by law, that judge was coded as engaging in campaign behavior. A total of 297 judges, or 47 percent, were coded as engaging in campaign behavior. Four variables were found to have empirically independent relationships with whether or not a judge in Illinois campaigns for retention: party identification of the judge, strength of the political parties in the circuit or district, whether or not the election is in Cook County, and whether or not any judges had been defeated previously in the circuit or district. In Illinois, where partisan election is the initial path to the bench, most retention campaigning is found in circuits and districts where one party's support is much greater than the other's. This suggests that the initial partisan election of judges is a key variable related to amount of campaigning in retention elections. If there are no differences between Illinois and other retention States on these variables and future research supports the findings reported in this study on party strength, then it is warranted to conclude that initial partisan election is the primary cause of greater amounts of judicial retention campaigning in Illinois.


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