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Neville holds Illinois Supreme Court seat after concession from Reyes

Appellate Court Justice Jesse Reyes conceded to Illinois Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville Jr. on Wednesday afternoon after a tight race that was too close to call after polls closed Tuesday.

Justice P. Scott Neville Jr., Illinois Supreme Court Democratic primary candidate, speaks at the 2020 Primary Candidates’ Forum at the Progressive Baptist Church on Feb. 22.
Justice P. Scott Neville Jr., Illinois Supreme Court Democratic primary candidate, speaks at the 2020 Primary Candidates’ Forum at the Progressive Baptist Church on Feb. 22.
Colin Boyle/ For the Sun-Times

Illinois Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville Jr. succeeded in his bid to hold his seat on the high court Wednesday, defeating a tough challenge from Appellate Court Justice Jesse Reyes.

Reyes conceded to Neville on Wednesday afternoon after a tight race that was too close to call after polls closed Tuesday evening. Neville’s victory over Reyes, as well the five other candidates, brings an end to a campaign that largely focused on diversity.

Neville is African American and inherited his seat on the high court from the late Justice Charles E. Freeman, the first African American ever elected to the Illinois Supreme Court. Reyes would have been the court’s first Hispanic judge.

“It took the State of Illinois 172 years to elect a person of color to its Supreme Court, and with my nomination, Illinois will continue to have an African American on its highest court,” Neville said in a statement declaring victory. “I applaud Cook County’s voters because your votes indicate that you are committed to diversity.”

Other candidates in the race were Appellate Court Justices Cynthia Cobbs, Sheldon Harris, Nathaniel Howse and Margaret Shanton McBride, as well as lawyer Daniel Epstein.

With 98% of precincts reporting Wednesday evening, Neville had won the race with 25.4% of the vote. Reyes trailed with 20.8%, while Harris had 15.6%, Cobbs had 12.6%, McBride had 12.5%, Epstein had 8.1% and Howse had 5%.

Reyes congratulated Neville for his victory in an online post before shifting his focus to the looming COVID-19 pandemic.

“These are challenging times in which we live in and they may become more difficult in the days ahead,” Reyes said. “So, we need to continue to focus on staying safe and being responsible citizens through social distancing.”

Appellate Justice Jesse G. Reyes making calls on Election Day, Tuesday March 17, 2020. 
Appellate Justice Jesse G. Reyes making calls on election day, Tuesday March 17, 2020.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times