The increasing politicization of state judicial retention races, when judges seek a new term on an up-or-down vote, has led to judges raising large campaign sums to defend themselves against ouster efforts, Justice at Stake said on Friday. JAS also reported on election fundraising developments in the state.
“In recent years we have seen state judicial retention races become more politicized,” noted Debra Erenberg, director of State Affairs for Justice at Stake, which has been monitoring money and politics in this year’s judicial elections. “As a result, we are seeing judges raising large sums of money to defend themselves against efforts to oust them. That’s what is happening in Tennessee.”
JAS said in a news release that campaigns to retain three targeted justices in Tennessee have purchased at least $107,610 worth of TV airtime and begun airing ads on behalf of the candidates. The justices’ campaigns have reported a fundraising total of $598,261.99 according to state disclosure records.
Meanwhile, the Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington-based organization, registered with the state elections board on July 10, reinforcing expectations that it plans to launch a campaign aimed at ousting the three justices.
Another opposition group, the Tennessee Forum, began distributing direct mail pieces urging the defeat of the justices. Expenditures for the mailings have not yet been reported. The advertising and mailings come in the wake of an effort by the state’s lieutenant governor to organize a campaign to oust the justices (see Gavel Grab for background).