Money Raised by PA Supreme Court Candidates in 2023 Spotlight PA

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HARRISBURG — Candidates running for vacant seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court are drawn from wealthy donors, their own bank accounts, construction workers’ unions and, in one case, failed 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano. Get election funds.

Without exception, candidates with institutional party support have more money on hand. In Pennsylvania politics, this is not an unusual situation.

In total, the four candidates raised approximately $365,000 in cash and in-kind contributions between the time they submitted their latest campaign finance reports and late March.

Federal campaign finance laws do not place limits on the amounts that individual donors or political action committees (established by interest groups, corporations, unions, etc.) can contribute to candidates. In odd-year elections with low interest rates, party support often dictates candidacy.

In dispute last November was a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that has been vacant since the death of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Max Baer last year. Although the state Supreme Court handles relatively few cases, its decisions can have a significant impact on Pennsylvania politics and policy. In recent years, courts have ruled on the following cases: reproductive rights, mask dutyand election dispute.

Justices elected as Democrats have had a majority since 2015, and tipping courts has been a top Republican priority ever since. Currently, the seven-member court is made up of four Democrats and two Republicans.

That race will begin this spring, with registered Democrat and Republican voters choosing their fall candidates. The primary is his May 16th.

>>2023 Election Centers: What you need to know to participate in the May primaries

Contending for Republican support are two candidates: Montgomery County Presidential Judge Carolyn Caruccio and statewide appellate court judge Patricia McCullough.

Caruccio, who is backed by the state’s Republican Party, has raised about $146,500 since the beginning of the year, mostly from a handful of big donors.

One of the most important is GOP power broker Bob Asher. His PA Future Fund, the political action committee he chairs, gave Carluccio his $25,000, and he donated another $5,000 out of his own pocket.

Alfred Barber, president of a metal manufacturer in western Pennsylvania, also donated $25,000 to Carruccio’s campaign. Barber and his wife Mary have donated thousands of dollars to the Republican campaign over the past few years. include To Bill McXwain’s unsuccessful US Senate primary and Kevin Blobson’s successful campaign for a state Supreme Court seat.

Carluccio also lent himself $25,000 and received another $25,000 from Charles Tornetta, a Montgomery County real estate agent. her father.

A top conservative federal judge in an unsuccessful 2021 bid for the Republican Supreme Court nomination, McCullough has voiced her support for former President Donald Trump. side with the efforts of a group of Republican lawmakers Nullify the 2020 election results.

Her campaign raised about $10,800. This is similar to her reported $7,000 raising and her $3,500 spending in 2021.

Nearly all of her funding came from Friends of Doug Mastriano PAC, who donated $10,000. Mastriano is a far-right senator who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2022. Mastriano’s “Walk Free As People” March meeting.

The report shows one notable absence — all groups associated with conservative major donors Jeff Yasspent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 2021 Republican Supreme Court primary in favor of Blobson.

>>The Complete Guide to State Supreme Court Candidates

Dan McCaffrey of Philadelphia and Deborah Kunselmann of Beaver County, two Democrats sitting on the Superior Court, another statewide court of appeals, are pitted against each other for the party’s nomination.

Backed by state Democrats, McCaffrey raised $141,000 from a number of union PACs, including $25,000 from the state carpenters union. This is his largest donation. He also received $15,000 from the union representing heavy equipment operators in Pittsburgh and $10,000 from the local union representing general construction workers.

Kunselman raised half that amount, $66,500. Her biggest donor is herself. She provided a $10,500 loan for the campaign. The rest were mostly from Western Pennsylvania attorneys.

Longtime Republican operative Christopher Nicholas noted that in both primaries, the favored candidates had a fundraising advantage.

“Both parties’ hierarchies seem to have favorite Supreme Court candidates and have had them for some time,” Nicholas said.

Once considered a sleepy race, statewide judicial elections have drawn big money in recent years.

Total spending on court races with 3 seats won in 2015 Exceeded $16 millionAt least $7.1 million exhaustion One seat in the 2021 ballot.

Pennsylvania judicial candidates stricter rules More for fundraising and campaigning than for gubernatorial or state legislative candidates. Candidates cannot solicit funds directly from donors, instead leaving so-called “air time” to the Election Commission’s election staff. Nor can a potential judge say how it will decide on a particular issue or case.

Still, Deb Gross, executive director of the Pennsylvania Modern Court, a group pushing for ending judicial elections, told Spotlight PA that fundraising and campaigns are needed to keep voters informed when they cast their ballots. rice field. Injustice.

“Public? [election] Choosing funding or merit is probably the better option, honestly,” Gross told Spotlight PA.

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