Buying Time 2010: Michigan

This page features Michigan judicial ads of 2010.

September 19, 2010

Two justices on Michigan’s Supreme Court face election challenges this November. Justice Robert Young, a Republican, will face a challenge from Democrat Judge Denise Langford Morris, and Republican Judge Mary Beth Kelly will challenge incumbent Justice Alton Thomas Davis, a Democrat.  Justice Davis was appointed to the Court by Governor Jennifer Granholm in the last week of August, 2010, after the sudden retirement of his predecessor, Justice Elizabeth Weaver.

Michigan has seen high levels of spending in Supreme Court elections over the last several election cycles, according to a study of judicial election spending over the last decade.  From 2000-2009, the state ranked sixth nationally for candidate fundraising, and ranked third in the nation (after only Ohio and Alabama) in terms of spending on television advertising.  Non-candidate groups, including political parties and special interest groups, were particularly active in sponsoring television advertising — including harsh negative attack ads.  Conservative candidates for the Michigan Supreme Court received millions of dollars in campaign support from groups like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.  The Michigan Democratic Party spent millions to support Democratic candidates — and attack Republicans — including in one infamous 2008 attack ad in which they accused then-Chief Justice Cliff Taylor of sleeping on the bench.  Taylor was ultimately defeated, becoming the only sitting Chief Justice in Michigan’s history to lose a campaign for re-election.

With two heated races in 2010, Michigan’s Supreme Court elections remained costly — and negative.  Rich Robinson, director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, stated that political parties and interest groups were likely to spend at least $10 million in the fall elections, eclipsing the prior record in Michigan.  The Democratic Party launched its campaign against Justice Young through a series of Internet advertisements, and the American Justice Partnership, a group that advocates for conservative judges, is attacking Justice Davis in radio ads that call on Davis to step down.

Oh November 2, Incumbent Robert Young (R) retained his seat.  Mary Beth Kelly (R) beat Alton Davis (D) for the seat to which Davis was appointed in August.

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October 29, 2010 – Comedy Judge

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An ad by the Michigan Democratic Party tells voters to "call Bob Young and tell him we're not laughing anymore."


October 29, 2010 – Fair and Just

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According to an ad by the Michigan Democratic Party, Bob Young says his job isn't to be fair.


October 29, 2010 – Words

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Denise Morris says that Bob Young is disgraceful, but that she will bring dignity back to the Michigan Supreme Court.


October 29, 2010 – Elected

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Denise Langford Morris is tough on crime, but fair to every defendant.


October 27, 2010 – Who

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An ad by the Michigan Democratic Party tells voters "We don't need a racist and a sexist on the Supreme Court."


October 27, 2010 – No Laughing Matter

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An ad by the Michigan Democratic Party tells voters to "call Bob Young and tell him we're not laughing anymore."


October 26, 2010 – Tired of Negative Ads

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Bob Young says negative ads and lies are paid for by lawyers and special interests.


October 26, 2010 – Reform Judges 2

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An ad by the Michigan GOP says that Bob Yong and Mary Beth Kelly are reform justices.


October 26, 2010 – Money Makes the World Go Round

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An ad by the Michigan Democratic Party says Justice Young was named the worst Supreme Court Justice.


October 26, 2010 – Reform Judges

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An ad by the Michigan GOP says Bob Yong and Mary Beth Kelly are reform judges.


October 26, 2010 – Feels Really Bad

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An ad by the Michigan GOP says Mary Beth Kelly let an illegal alien "through the revolving door" despite warning signs.


October 22, 2010 – Make Do With Less

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An ad from the Law Enforcement Alliance of America says Judge Davis sued Michigan taxpayers.


October 22, 2010 – Soft on Crime

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An ad from the Law Enforcement Alliance of America says Judge Langford is soft on crime.


October 21, 2010 – Experience and Integrity

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Denise Langford Morris has the experience and integrity it takes to be a Supreme Court Justice.


October 21, 2010  Voice

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Tom Davis will be the voice of those who are not being heard.


October 21, 2010  A Michigan justice? Or a Wisconsin justice?

Michigan Democrats release a web ad against Bob Young.


October 20, 2010  Protects Polluters

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The Michigan Democratic Party says Bob Young protects polluters and oil companies.


October 19, 2010 – Tough on Crime

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An ad from the Michigan Republican Party says that Bob Young and Mary Beth Kelly will be tough on crime.


October 14, 2010 – Your Choice 2

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An ad from the Michigan Republican party features voters who say they will choose Bob Young and Mary Beth Kelly.


October 14, 2010 – Your Choice

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An ad from the Michigan Republican party features voters who say they will choose Bob Young and Mary Beth Kelly.


June 14, 2010  Justice Bob Young: Puppet for the Oil and Gas Industry

Michigan Democratic Party airs web ad attacking sitting Republican Bob Young.


News


Joe Swickard, Mary Beth Kelly and Bob Young Win Spots, Free Press, November 3, 2010.

TV Spending Surges in State Supreme Court Races The Brennan Center for Justice, October 29, 2010.

Ed White, Ex-Mich. Justice Says She Recorded Her Colleagues, Associated Press, October 26, 2010.

Dems tie GOP high court nominee to teenage killer, Associated Press, October 25, 2010.

Justice Facing Re-Election Admits Using N-Word, Associated Press, October 23, 2010.

Take partisan politics out of judicial elections, Freep.com, October 21, 2010.

High court is soaked in partisanship, Lansing State Journal, October 17, 2010.

Leonard N. Fleming, High Court Race Showing Signs Of Being Costly, Nasty, The Detroit News, September 17, 2010.

Chris Christoff, Michigan supreme court races sure to draw big spenders, study says, Detroit Free Press, August 16, 2010.

Kathy Barks Hoffman, Dems already targeting Young in Supreme Court race, The Chicago Tribune, June 14, 2010.