The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

James Sample, Brennan Center for Justice, 212-992-8648
Charles W. Hall, Justice at Stake, 202-588-9454

Louisiana, Alabama, Ohio Lead TV Spending Surge in State Supreme Court Races


Louisiana will have its most expensive state Supreme Court election in a
decade. The surge in spending marked a week in which TV advertising in
judicial races shot up in four states, and special interest ads made
their first significant appearance in the fall campaigns.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, television buys
increased sharply in Louisiana, Alabama, Ohio, and Mississippi, during
the week of Sept. 20-26. Courts in those states have been caught up in
a decade-long battle for control between trial lawyers and business

Nationally, $672,332 was spent on state Supreme Court election ads last week, compared with $316,070 the week before.

"After a relatively quiet period early in the fall election cycle,
it is clear that down-ballot races, including those for seats on state
high courts, are now involving substantial financial resources," said
James Sample, counsel at the Brennan Center.

In campaign reports before Louisiana's Oct. 4 election for state
Supreme Court, the five candidates raised a total of $1,903,498. That
is more than twice the $904,000 that was raised in 2004, in the state's
previously most expensive election in this decade, but short of the
$2.8 million raised in 1996.

The leading fundraiser is Justice Catherine D. "Kitty" Kimball, a
Democrat, who has raised $606,085. Her opponent, Jefferson Hughes, has
not reported donations, but said he has received $206,310 in loans.

The three candidates seeking the other seat, which is open, have
raised relatively similar amounts. Republicans Jimmy Kuhn and Greg
Guidry have raised $341,340 and $316,497, respectively, and Democrat
Roland Belsome has raised $433,265.

The campaign money has translated into television advertising by all
five candidates. According to a study of ad purchases, the campaigns
spent an estimated total of $159,322 for TV air time during the week of
Sept. 22-28, and $122,264 the week before.

Information on the ads, including storyboards and video clips, are available at the Brennan Center's "Buying Time 2008" page. The "Buying Time" report is being updated weekly through the Nov. 4 election.

For the first time in the campaign, Democrat Deborah Bell Paseur, a
trial judge, spent more on television advertising than her Republican
opponent, appellate judge Greg Shaw.

Paseur, who has a base of donors that includes many trial lawyers,
spent $143,760. Shaw, who has received most of his money from business
organizations, spent $65,583.

The television airwaves last week were dominated by the Partnership for
Ohio's Future, a state Chamber of Commerce group that aired an
estimated $263,226 in television advertising.

The Partnership's most frequently recurring ad, accounting for an
estimated $180,797 in airtime last week, spoke positively of incumbent
Evelyn Stratton. Stratton, the only Ohio candidate to run her own ads
last week, spent just $4,607 on ad time.

"Competing special interests continue to see state Supreme Courts as
a political prize," said Charlie Hall, a spokesman for the Justice at
Stake Campaign, a nonpartisan national partnership that seeks to keep
politics and special interest influence out of the courtroom. "The
newest TV ad numbers show that this competition is a driving force
again in 2008."


The Brennan Center's analyses of television advertising in state
Supreme Court elections use data obtained from a commercial firm, TNS
Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group ("CMAG"), which
records each ad via satellite. CMAG provides information about the
location, dates, frequency, and estimated costs of each ad, as well as
storyboards. Cost estimates are refined over time and do not include
the costs of design and production. As a result, cost estimates
substantially understate the actual cost of advertising.

The Brennan Center for Justice is a nonpartisan law and policy institute. We strive to uphold the values of democracy. We stand for equal justice and the rule of law. We work to craft and advance reforms that will make American democracy work, for all.

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