As the 2006 election season heads into its final two weeks, campaign fundraising by legislative and judicial candidates appears to be hotter than ever. Statewide Democrats enjoy significant financial advantages over their opponents, while Republican donors seem to be focusing on a small handful of contests in the House, Senate, and Appellate Court where they see heightened chances for victory.
Most of the money raised by statewide candidates has come in very large increments from donors who gave more than $10,000. Contributions of this size are banned in most other states and for federal candidates. Because Illinois law places no restrictions on giving, candidates have become reliant on a tiny number of very large donors.
Legislative races are hotter than usual, and have heated up earlier than usual. Only three House races in 2004 saw combined spending of $1 million or more. So far this year, three House races report total fundraising in excess of $1 million, and several more are poised to break that barrier in the next two weeks.
Half of the four Appellate Court races are uncontested. The race in far southern Illinois looks to be a replay of the 2004 Supreme Court race: a proxy war between personal injury plaintiffs on the one side and personal injury defendants on the other. The Fifth District race, stretching from the Metro East area to the Indiana border, already appears to have broken the record for spending in a state Appellate Court contest.
A copy of this report is (or will be) available for download from the ICPR website.