MSC campaign cash: A bit short of $20M

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor has a 10-to-1 campaign contribution advantage over challenger Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Diane Hathaway, according to the latest filings with the Secretary of State.

Taylor reported more than $1.5 million in contributions so far. Hathaway reported just under $150,000 for the period between Sept. 3 and Sept. 26.

These are not trivial sums, but both are a far cry from $20 million. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert Young speculated last fall that’s how much it might take to re-elect Taylor. And that’s how much Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer said he would spend to defeat Taylor.

With less than a month before the election, it’s not realistic to expect either candidate will come close to raising $20 million in campaign contributions.

But will $20 million actually be spent on Taylor and Hathaway’s behalf?

Not likely, says Michigan Campaign Finance Network Executive Director Rich Robinson.

If that kind of money is spent on the supreme court contest, “it will come from soft-money issue ads. These can appear out of nowhere,” said Robinson.

Robinson said in the last election for governor, Jennifer Granholm and Dick Posthumus were spending $2 million per week in the closing weeks of the campaign, and “that was for total saturation of all the markets.”

If a similar “food fight” (Robinson’s phrase) were to erupt in this year’s MSC campaigns, there simply isn’t enough time left before election day to spend $20 million, according to Robinson.

Robinson said that MCFN recently “made the rounds” at television stations across the state.

“Taylor has ads cued up to go over the last three weeks of the campaign,” he said. The ads will begin to air Oct. 16 in the Detroit area, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

Robinson said that he didn’t see any Hathaway media buys when MCFN conducted its research.

Robinson said that the Judicial Confirmation Network has bought some time as well. There’s no telling what the JCN might run but its website currently features an attack ad against Barack Obama.

It’s good to be an MSC chief justice seeking re-election . . .

. . . just ask Cliff Taylor. Or better yet, check out his campaign finance filings.

record-breaking contributions to his re-election campaign.

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor: campaign contributions are rolling in.

According to information collected by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Taylor has raised more than $1.4 million this year, “setting a new record for a Michigan Supreme Court candidate’s campaign committee.”

The Michigan Republic Party takes the lead on a list of Taylor’s top contributors, followed by everyone else you’d expect: the Prince/Devos family, groups representing business concerns, restaurant operators, realtors, insurers, banks, the medical profession, and Dykema Gossett.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Democratic Party, staring hard at the Sept. 5 kickoff date for their state party convention, is still scrambling for a top court candidate to nominate and shower with money.

The party’s unfruitful search for someone to square off with Taylor has been well-reported, and has prompted Susan J. Demas, blogging in Capitol Chronicles, to suggest that the “obvious choice” has been in front of the Democrats all along. Check out her tongue-in-cheek suggestion that MDP Chair Mark Brewer should go for it.