Former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran has eked out a win in the Republican primary race for an open Illinois Supreme Court seat after the Illinois State Board of Elections certified ballots Friday.

The race had remained too close to call following last month’s election, with Curran maintaining a small lead over opponent Daniel Shanes, a sitting Lake County circuit judge.

With provisional and mail-in ballots counted, Curran prevailed with roughly 1,400 more votes than Shanes.

Curran served as the sheriff in Lake County for 12 years and tried unsuccessfully to take Dick Durbin’s U.S. Senate seat in 2020. A former federal and local prosecutor, he was rated “not recommended” for the state’s highest court by the Illinois State Bar Association. Two of Curran’s primary opponents, Shanes and sitting 2nd District Appellate Judge Susan Hutchinson, were rated “highly recommended” for the post.

Shanes’ campaign committee had raised far more money than Curran’s in the buildup to the primary election. Shanes also had support from an independent expenditure committee largely funded by billionaire Ken Griffin. The group, Citizens for Judicial Fairness, had spent roughly $50,000 to oppose Curran’s bid and another $170,000 in support of Shanes.

In November, Curran will face Democratic primary winner Elizabeth “Liz” Rochford for the vacant 2nd District Supreme Court seat left open by the retirement of former Chicago Bears kicker Bob Thomas. Rochford, a sitting Lake County associate judge, was rated “highly recommended” for the seat on the bench and out-fundraised her opponents.

Curran and two other primary candidates were briefly ejected from the ballot over the number of signatures required to run for the seat. A Cook County judge restored all three candidates in May.

Curran said he had already declared victory after seeing the earlier results and is looking forward to November.

“I feel a lot better about winning this race than I did the primary,” he said, noting a strong showing by Republican voters. “I think we have a great chance.”

The 2nd Judicial District has consistently elected Republican justices to the seat since the 1960s, but new district boundaries drawn by the Democratic-controlled legislature went into effect in January.

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