Michigan tops nation for supreme court TV election ad spending

From the Brennan Center for Justice comes the not-surprising news that Michigan topped the nation in campaign cash spent for television ads on behalf of state supreme court candidates.

Michigan saw the highest overall spending on supreme court TV ads, with about $5.1 million spent on airtime, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG; Ohio is second with more than $1.9 million in airtime spending. In both of these states, four candidates competed for two Supreme Court seats. …

The highest level of spending in a single-candidate retention race was in Illinois, where incumbent Justice Thomas Kilbride spent more than $1.6 million on TV airtime through Nov. 1. …

Four of the top five spenders on TV airtime in supreme court elections are non-candidate groups. The Michigan Republican Party ranked first overall in TV spending (just over $2 million).Kilbride ranked second ($1.6 million); the Michigan State Democratic Party ranked third ($1.4 million); the Partnership for Ohio’s Future ranked fourth (about $846,000); and the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, which spent more than $780,000 in support of two Republican candidates for the Michigan Supreme Court, ranked fifth.

The Brennan Center’s report noted that in Michigan

non-candidate groups, led by the state Republican and Democratic parties and the Virginia-based Law Enforcement Alliance of America, accounted for more than 80 percent of all TV spending.

Bert Brandenburg, executive director of the center’s Justice at Stake Campaign, asserted, “Political parties and independent groups hijacked this election, heavily outspending the candidates, and ads on both sides were riddled with questionable claims.

“Michigan remains a ground zero for negative, costly court elections.”

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