Democrats dominate spending in $9 million Pa. Supreme Court race

     Pennsylvania voters Tuesday will choose from among Supreme Court candidates, from right,  Christine Donohue, David Wecht, Paul Panepinto,  Judith Olson, Michael George,  Kevin Dougherty and Anne Covey. There are three vacancies on the seven-member bench.(Matt Slocum/AP Photo)

    Pennsylvania voters Tuesday will choose from among Supreme Court candidates, from right, Christine Donohue, David Wecht, Paul Panepinto, Judith Olson, Michael George, Kevin Dougherty and Anne Covey. There are three vacancies on the seven-member bench.(Matt Slocum/AP Photo)

    By the time they cast ballots next Tuesday, Pennsylvania voters will have been bombarded with more than $9 million in TV advertising for and against the seven candidates for the state Supreme Court, according to an analysis of media spending.

    Three of the seven posts on the seven-member court are up for grabs, meaning that the election could determine the partisan balance of the court for years.

    Democrats and their allies account for more than three-quarters of the spending. Roughly a third of those funds comes from independent groups supporting one party or the other.

    The Republican State Leadership Committee, a national group, is running ads supporting Republicans and attacking Democratic candidates. And Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform, an independent group funded mostly by trial lawyers, is attacking the three GOP candidates.

    The biggest spender among the candidates is Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Kevin Dougherty, who’s bought nearly $2.2 million in ad time.

    While the Democrats have a big edge in spending and roughly 1.2 million more registered voters than Republicans, conventional wisdom is that GOP turnout is better in an off-year election such as this one.

    The numbers I have are from a reliable source who tracks political media ad buys across the state. I’ve rounded the numbers, since there are often late adjustments that will have a minor effect on the totals.  Here’s the TV ad spending, on both broadcast and cable:

    $5.1 million by three Democratic candidates (Kevin Dougherty, Christine Donohue, David Wecht);
    $1.9 million by Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform (independent group supporting Democrats);
    $950,000 by three Republican candidates (Michael George, Judith Olson, Anne Covey);
    $1.1 million by the Republican State Leadership Committee (independent group supporting Republicans); and
    $75,000 by the State Republican Party.

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