- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - An Illinois Supreme Court justice targeted for ouster by plaintiffs’ attorneys who spent more than $1 million publicly characterizing him as partial to corporate interests appears to have retained his seat, which he won a decade ago in a race that set national spending records.

With more than 99 percent of Tuesday’s votes counted, Lloyd Karmeier finished less than 1 percentage point above the 60 percent threshold he needed for retention. Several of the 37 southernmost Illinois counties making up Karmeier’s district still were counting absentee and provisional ballots Wednesday.

Karmeier’s campaign chief, Ron Deedrick, said in a statement that Karmeier believes he has won, and “we are cautiously optimistic that the numbers may continue to edge up” in Karmeier’s favor.

Deedrick later told The Associated Press he’d be unsurprised if Karmeier’s opponents sought a recount or sued over the results.

“It just seems to be sometimes what these parties do,” Deedrick said. “Some parties are just playing out the election from 10 years ago,” when Karmeier first was elected to the high court after a tight race that cost the two candidates more than $9 million, shattering state and national spending records for a judicial seat.



Seeking to bounce Karmeier from the bench, several attorneys and law firms in mid-October launched the “Campaign for 2016” that state records show collected more than $1 million ultimately poured into television commercials, automated calls and mailings that labeled Karmeier too tight with business.

At least $500,000 of those contributions came from two attorneys for the Korein Tillery law firm with offices in St. Louis and Chicago.

Stephen Tillery, a St. Louis-based principle of Korein Tillery, is seeking Karmeier’s recusal from the Supreme Court’s consideration of an appeal of a decade-old $10.1 million class-action verdict against Phillip Morris USA. A lower court ruled in Tillery’s favor over the nation’s biggest cigarette maker’s marketing of “light” and “low tar” designations.

In court motions, Tillery has argued “there is an objective and reasonable public perception” that Karmeier has bias favoring Philip Morris. The company and groups supporting it contributed millions of dollars to Karmeier’s 2004 campaign, Tillery added.

Karmeier has refused to step aside, insisting he has no conflict.

The anti-Karmeier campaign’s chairman, Barzin Emami, did not return messages seeking comment Wednesday.

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