CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois voters will be making some critical decisions this year in a pair of races for the Illinois Supreme Court. And there is some big money being poured into the campaigns.
The outcome will impact the makeup of the court for years to come.
The Illinois Supreme Court is currently made up of four Democrats and three Republicans, and with two open seats, the stakes are very high.
In one race, former prosecutor and Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, a Republican, is facing Democrat Elizabeth Rochford, who currently serves as a circuit court judge in Lake County.
In the other race, incumbent Republican Supreme Court Justice Michael Burke is facing a challenge from Appellate Court Justice Mary Kay O'Brien, who is a Democrat.
The races are heating up with the election less than five weeks away.
"What we're seeing is a continuation of national trends. So the spending, the types of issues that are being brought up, the attack ads," said Suzanne Chod, a political science professor at North Central College.
Rochford and O'Brien are both making abortion a key issue in their campaign ads, attacking their opponents for being supported by anti-abortion groups while touting their own pro-abortion credentials as an important qualification for the next justices.
"Judges should not be stepping into to these political issues, especially things that could potentially wind up in front of the Supreme Court," said Patrick Pfingston, with The Illinoize Newsletter.
Both of the Democrats are getting major support from Governor JB Pritzker, who recently donated $500,000 to each of their campaigns.
On the other side, A SuperPac, funded by the billionaire Republican mega-donor Ken Griffin, is now airing an ad trying to link the Democrats to indicted former house speaker Mike Madigan.
Chod said the ads are meant to tap into voters' emotions.
"What gets people to polls more than anything is anger. So you start with some fear and anxiety of what could things look like if the other party took over. And when that transitions into anger, that's what drives people to vote," Chod said.
A victory by just one of the Republicans would give the party a four-three majority on the court and with the justices serving 10-year terms, the stakes in the abortion fight make these races more important than ever.
Early Voting Begins Friday
Early voting for the November 8th election starts Friday in the City of Chicago
You can vote at the Loop Super site located at the intersection of Lake and Clark streets.