Source: News & Observer
North Carolina’s elections for the State Supreme Court are already shaping up to be expensive contests. Campaign finance reports reveal that the candidates for the two seats have raised a combined total of nearly $3.2 million.
In both contests, progressive candidates have handily outraised their conservative opponents. Democratic candidate Judge Lucy Inman raised four times more in campaign contributions than her opponent, Republican Judge Richard Dietz. Inman is also the first candidate to raise over $1 million for her campaign this cycle. Democratic Justice Sam Ervin, running for re-election, raised twice as much as his Republican opponent, Trey Allen.
According to an analysis by the News & Observer, Inman and Ervin also brought in more small-dollar donations than their Republican opponents, a strong indication of grassroots support for their campaigns. Contributions of less than $100 accounted for nearly 10% of Inman and Ervin’s fundraising in the second quarter.
The News & Observer analysis also revealed that Republican candidate Trey Allen received a maximum contribution from Macon Newby, wife to Republican Chief Justice Paul Newby. While ethics prohibit justices from making political contributions to other candidates and campaigns, the same rule does not necessarily apply to their spouses.
Newby has a history of hyper-partisanship and his leadership of the State Supreme Court has been criticized in recent months. News & Observer opinion writer Ned Barnett wrote, “North Carolina’s courts are supposed to be above politics, but they are getting tainted by the same partisanship that is threatening public faith in the federal courts…”
Trey Allen was appointed by Newby to serve as General Counsel to the Administrative Office of the Courts. Allen, who does not have any experience as a judge, said that Newby himself encouraged him to run for the State Supreme Court. Allen has also previously served as a clerk under Newby.