Records for Spending, Fundraising Fall in Pennsylvania Court Race

A trifecta of judicial election records has fallen in the contest for three open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice said on Tuesday:

  • Total spending in the 2015 primary and general election is at least $11,474,570, compared to $10,519,717 in 2007. The general election will be held Nov. 3.
  • Candidates have raised at least $9,826,380, compared to the prior record, in 2007, of $9,464,975. Seven candidates, narrowed down from a broader primary field, are competing for three seats.
  • Counting ads that already have aired in both the primary and general election, estimated airtime spending is $6,710,990 through Oct. 26; total TV airtime spending in 2007 was $4,555,196.

“While Pennsylvania’s record-smashing judicial election may not be a shock, it’s definitely a shame,” said Liz Seaton, JAS interim executive director. “The losers in this highly politicized election are really the people of Pennsylvania. Multimillion-dollar spending binges and waves of attack ads are no way to determine who serves on the state’s highest court.”

“As these spending records fall, Pennsylvania continues to demonstrate the important role that money all too often plays in judicial elections,” said Matt Menendez, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice.

“Watching these expensive brawls year after year is yet one more reason we say ‘Enough is enough’ for contested Supreme Court elections in Pennsylvania,” said Lynn A. Marks, Executive Director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.

The three Democrats in the race have each passed the $1 million fundraising threshold. The three Republicans, who trail behind, have recently started airing their own TV ads. Advertising in the race is available from the Brennan Center’s Buying Time 2015 website. The Brennan Center and PMC are JAS partner organizations.