Updated July 20 with final results from the Chicago Board of Elections and Cook County Clerk.
With final results from the June 28 Cook County judicial primary election counted, 26 new judges are poised to move into their first six-year terms on the Cook County Circuit Court. The First District Appellate Court will welcome two new justices for 10-year terms. One race will be decided in the November election, as Democratic and Republican candidates will face off to fill a vacancy in the northwest-suburban 13th subcircuit.
The new class of circuit court judges will include 16 women and 13 men. Six of the winning candidates are Black, five are Latinx, and three are Asian American; the rest are white. But the election did not add significantly to the diversity of the bench, as half of the winning candidates of color are already sitting judges.
Investigations that expose, influence and inform. Emailed directly to you.
Eight of the candidates slated by the Cook County Democratic Party for the 10 countywide circuit court vacancies won. The exceptions were Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st Ward) and former Chicago Police Department attorney Yolanda Sayre.
However, neither of the appellate court candidates slated by the county party succeeded in their bids. One of the new appellate judges is Debra Walker, who is currently assigned to the Cook County Circuit Court’s domestic relations division. She is joined by Raymond Mitchell, now a judge in the chancery division. Walker and Mitchell are white.
Current and former elected officials did not do well in their judicial contests. In addition to Brookins (who lost to personal injury attorney Lisa Taylor), Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward) lost his bid in the 11th subcircuit to Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Aileen Bhandari. Former Cook County commissioner and former state Rep. John Fritchey finished last in a three-way race for an 8th subcircuit judicial seat. The winner of that race, Bradley Trowbridge, is a family law attorney who made three prior unsuccessful runs for judge.
As is typical for Cook County judicial contests, many of the candidates had backgrounds as county prosecutors or public defenders. Pending the outcome of the 13th subcircuit contest, nine of the new circuit court judges will be current or former assistant state’s attorneys, continuing Cook County’s traditional prosecutor-to-judge pipeline. Only two are public defenders — Thomas More Donnelly and Charles “Charlie” Beach are also already sitting judges.
It was a good year overall for judges running for judge. All three associate judges (who would have stayed on the bench even if they’d lost) were successful in their bids. And seven of the eight judges temporarily appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to fill vacant seats won their first full terms on the court. The one exception was John W. Wilson, lost his 1st subcircuit race to family law and estate attorney Maria Barlow. Notably, while Wilson came recommended by all 13 bar associations, Barlow did not participate in the evaluation process and had negative ratings from all of them.
In another noteworthy subcircuit race, former Judge Jackie Portman-Brown lost in her historic bid to return to the bench. The four-way race for a 5th subcircuit vacancy was swept by Timothy W. Wright III, an attorney with a long history in local public interest law and government service.
In the west-suburban 4th subcircuit, ShawnTe Raines-Welch, an attorney who represents several south-suburban municipalities and the wife of Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, beat three opponents for a seat on the court. Political connections to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan did not appear to help James Gleffe in the south-suburban 15th subcircuit, however; he lost by a wide margin to family law attorney Bernadette Barrett.
The northwest-suburban 13th subcircuit had the only vacancy with Democratic and Republican primaries. On the Democratic side, public defender Joe Gump won with a razor thin margin. Attorney Gary Seyring won the GOP primary for the third election in a row. In 2020, Seyring lost in the general election to Susanne Groebner, who died suddenly in February, creating the vacancy.
In all the other contests, the winner of the Democratic primary will run unopposed in November. New judges will be sworn in in December.
Turnout for the June 28 primary was just under 23% in Chicago and less than 20% in the Cook County suburbs. By contrast, in the 2018 midterm primary election, Chicago turnout was at nearly 33% and suburban turnout was around 29%.
2022 Cook County judicial primary winners
Appellate court (1st district)
Debra B. Walker
Raymond W. Mitchell
Circuit court (Countywide)
Lisa Michelle Taylor
Thomas E. Nowinski
Elizabeth “Beth” Ryan
Rena Marie Van Tine
Ruth Isabel Gudino
Araceli R. De La Cruz
Thomas More Donnelly
Circuit court (Subcircuits)
Maria M. Barlow (1st)
Nick Kantas (4th)
ShawnTe Raines-Welch (4th)
David L. Kelly (5th)
Timothy W. Wright III (5th)
Charles “Charlie” Beach (6th)
Kerrie Maloney Laytin (6th)
Marcia O’Brien Conway (7th)
Bradley R. Trowbridge (8th)
Stephen Swedlow (8th)
Sanjay Tailor (9th)
Barry Goldberg (9th)
Aileen Bhandari (11th)
Iris Y. Chavira (14th)
Viviana Martinez (14th)
Bernadette Barrett (15th)
13th subcircuit – to be decided in November general election
Republican: Gary William Seyring
Democratic: Joe Gump
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Judge Debra Walker would be the first LGBTQ person on the Illinois Appellate Court. Walker does not identify as LGBTQ.