Illinois Supreme Court Election Results: Rochford Declares Victory in Key Race

Democrat Elizabeth Rochford has declared victory in one of two vacant seats

Getty Images

LIVE election results can be found here.

One of the most closely watched races in the run-up to and on Election Day in Illinois were two vacancies on the Illinois State Supreme Court, with the partisan makeup of the court hanging in the balance.

As Illinois' highest court, the state's Supreme Court, with a long-held 4-3 Democratic majority, could potentially rule on cases related to abortion access or any other major issues like civil rights, gun regulations, voting laws, criminal justice reforms and more.

The three justices from Cook County are all Democrats, including Justice Mary Jane Theis, who was up for a retention vote this year. The justices from the Fourth District (central and western Illinois) and Fifth District (largely downstate) are both Republicans.

That leaves two seats to be decided in Tuesday's 2022 Illinois midterm election.

2020 was a pivotal year for the court: voters chose not to retain Democratic Justice Thomas Kilbride in a rare loss following a massively expensive, ad-heavy race. Republican Justice Robert Thomas also announced his retirement, and the U.S. Census paved the way for the state's judicial map to be redistricted.

That all led to two vacancies on the ballot this year for the newly drawn Second and Third Districts in Chicago's suburban counties.

The Second District, which includes Lake, McHenry, DeKalb, Kane and Kendall counties, saw a heated race between Republican and former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, and Democrat Elizabeth "Liz" Rochford.

Late Tuesday, Rochford declared victory. Wednesday morning, with 100% precincts reporting, Rochford was projected by NBC News as the winner.

“Thank you to the people of the Second District for entrusting me with a seat on the bench of the highest court in the state," she said in a statement. "I am humbled that my experience, my qualifications, and my commitment to expanding access to justice in our court system resonated with so many Illinoisans."

The Third District, which includes DuPage, Will, Kankakee, Iroquois, Grundy, LaSalle and Bureau counties saw a competitive race between Republican Michael J. Burke and Democrat Mary K. O'Brien.

Burke was appointed in 2020 to fill Thomas' Second District vacancy but is now running in the Third District following the redistricting of the court. Also a former prosecutor, Burke was an associate judge beginning in 1992, then a circuit judge in the Eighteenth Circuit before serving most recently on the 2nd Appellate District Court prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court.

As of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, O'Brien was in the lead, with 92% of precincts reporting.

The Illinois Supreme Court has seven total seats: three from the First District, which is Cook County alone, and one each from the four other districts across the state. After winning their first elections, Supreme Court justices serve 10-year terms and are up for retention votes to win any additional 10-year terms thereafter.

Contact Us