How Judges Who Received 'Anti-Endorsements' Retained Seats

By Davis, Jon | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), November 7, 2002 | Go to article overview

How Judges Who Received 'Anti-Endorsements' Retained Seats


Davis, Jon, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Jon Davis Daily Herald Staff Writer

The air must have seemed clearer, the coffee a little tastier and life a little sweeter Wednesday for Judge James T. Ryan and seven fellow jurists who ran and survived a gauntlet of calls for their professional heads.

Ryan was among the dubiously select group of judges who were not recommended in Tuesday's general election for another 6-year term on the Cook County Circuit Court bench.

Call them anti-endorsements if you will. Ryan got every single one of 'em from nine separate bar associations and numerous newspaper editorial boards. Yet he and his seven colleagues surpassed the required 60 percent "yes" threshold on their retention questions despite the kind of bad, final week publicity that typically gives candidates ulcers.

So how does a judge who was rejected by every bar association that rates judges get retained?

In Ryan's case, he got 512,462 "yes" votes countywide, or 62.3 percent of all votes cast.

But while the Inverness resident, former Arlington Heights village president and one-time Republican attorney general candidate scored only a 57.9 percent "yes" vote in suburban Cook County - with 99.8 percent of suburban precincts reporting - he scored a 67.3 percent "yes" vote in Chicago (where 98 of 2,705 precincts remained to be counted as of Wednesday afternoon).

Ironically enough, that means the suburban Republican judge owes his seat to what's left of the Chicago Democratic machine.

Ryan could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

A city-suburban split on retention is typical, and attributable to the Chicago Democrats' greater efficiency at getting out their vote, said David Melton, president of the Chicago Council of Lawyers.

More city voters are in the habit of taking palm card lists of the party's endorsed candidates, including judges, into the voting booths, Melton said. Plus, it seems fewer suburban voters go on to complete the judicial retention portion of the ballot, he added.

The typical pattern for recent retention elections is that at least 60 percent vote "yes" on all the judges "chiefly from what we understand at the instigation of the local parties," Melton said. …

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