Unlimited campaign spending has negatively affected political discourse in Illinois, according to the state’s Supreme Court Chief Justice. Thomas Kilbride, who faced a bitter retention campaign in 2010, says more campaign spending following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling has meant more negative campaign ads in Illinois and Iowa. He says such ads are effective, but in the wrong way.
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“It works in diminishing citizen participation and it works in dampening the enthusiasm of a citizen voter to show up on Election Day,” he says. If it were up to him, Kilbride says campaign contributions beyond those that cover the minimum costs of traveling the district, maybe about $5,000, wouldn’t be allowed. Kilbride says it’s a judge’s job to be ambivalent to the so-called “popularity contests” around them, but that’s been hard given the increased politicization of judicial races.