Only one supreme court case contains competition for ad spots

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 26, 2014

Not all political races are drawing big bucks, but the North Carolina Supreme Court race is a multi-million dollar race, when spending is looked at collectively.
A collaborative release this week from three different political groups — non-profit Justice at Stake, New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice and N.C. Voters for Clean Elections — detailed spending in the North Carolina Supreme Court Race. The release says nearly $710,000 have already been booked in the four contested races. State and federal filings show that both primary and general election spending has reached almost $3.3 million.
Some candidates are even teaming up to buy ad spots together.
Chief Justice Mark Martin, appointed in August and seeking a full term, purchased ad spots in tandem with Eric Levinson, who is challenging Justice Robin Hudson for her seat. The pair purchased a total of 334 ads at $176,00 total. Martin is also running 146 solo ads at $19,000 total, according to the release.
Hudson didn’t book any ads for the general election, as of September 22, according to the release. Judge Ola M. Lewis, who is challenging Martin also didn’t purchase any ad spots.
If the aforementioned races were determined simply on ad dollars, Levinson and Martin would win in a shut-out.
The supreme court race between Justice Cheri Beasley and Michael Robinson is also a shutout, according to the release.
Robinson and John Bryant, running for district attorney in Wake County, purchased tandem ads amounting to $130,000 or 297 total ads. Robinson also will run 81 solo ads for less than $9,700.
Robinson’s opponent — Beasley — hasn’t purchased any advertising spots.
Only one N.C. Supreme Court race — Justice Robert N. Hunter Jr. against Same Ervin IV — could be considered competitive in advertising dollars spent.
Ervin, like Robinson, is teaming up with another, non-supreme-court candidate. Ervin and his teammate Mark Davis, running for court of appeals, have booked 689 ad spots at a total of $328,000, according to the release. Individually, Ervin has booked 29 spots totaling &,525.
It’s curious that so much money is being spent for positions that most people wouldn’t associate with high-dollar campaigns.
When supreme court candidates begin soliciting or simply accepting money for campaigns, special interests could become involved. And judges, theoretically, shouldn’t be biased toward a particular topic or person.
A judge could recuse himself or herself if involved in a case where one of the parties contributed money to the campaign, but what are the chances that the judge would remember every contribution ever made.
Judges, especially at the Supreme Court level, should be held to a higher standard.
Biases are easy to point out, but the truth is that a majority of voters are clueless about the professional competency of a judge. North Carolina Supreme Court judges should be the most competent and accomplished legal professionals not a person that can spend the most money in touting their message.
It’s nearly election day. There’s hardly anything that can be changed in 2014, but I’d hope decision makers see the potential problems with elected supreme court justices and quickly move to make changes.
As election day gets closer, more political candidates are arranging speaking events in Rowan County.
Congressional candidate Alma Adams, running for U.S. House District 12, will speak Oct. 6 at West End Business and Community Center at 6 p.m.
Adams is a Democrat, running against Vince Coakley for a position formerly held by Mel Watt.
She has served in three elected position in the state and served on the school board in Greensboro.
Adams is also running for one of the most gerrymandered congressional districts in the nation. It’s a narrow strip of land that strangely snakes southward from Greensboro to Charlotte. The district makes a sharp, westward turn near the city limits of Salisbury, meaning that it doesn’t include south Rowan municipalities such as China Grove.
School board candidates will have a chance to present their platforms and rally for votes during an upcoming candidate forum.
Livingstone College’s History and Political Science Department will have a Salisbury-rowan County School Board forum Oct. 2 at 6 p.m.
It’s a public event and will be held in the Hilliard Room of the Hood Bldg. on the main campus.
A ten-minute documentary on the history of voting in North Carolina will be shown ahead of the event at 5:45 p.m., after which the forum will convene.

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