Buying Time 2014 - Tennessee

August 7, 2014

Three of Tennessee’s five supreme court justices were up for retention in 2014. Tennessee governors appoint supreme court justices for their first term and they subsequently sit for retention elections every eight years. Chief Justice Gary Wade, Justice Cornelia Clark, and Justice Sharon Lee participated in the retention race on August 7. In previous retention elections, none of the three raised or spent any money. However, this year, Republican Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey launched a statewide campaign to oust the three justices, originally appointed by a Democratic governor. The three justices created a coordinated campaign, called Keep Tennessee Courts Fair, to counter the attacks against their retention and raise funds.

All three justices were retained in the August 7 race.  

Estimated Total Spending: $1,752,820*

  • Estimated spending by Keep Tennessee Courts Fair, the coordinated campaign to retain justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee, and Gary Wade: $737,180
  • Estimated spending by Gary Wade: $116,860
  • Estimated spending by the Tennessee Forum: $596,970
  • Estimated spending by the State Government Leadership Foundation: $46,160
  • Tennesseans for Fair Courts: $255,650

*These figures were last updated December 4, 2014. 

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July 30 - Bill Jenkins

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In this ad, retired Republican U.S. Congressman Bill Jenkins says, "The recent political attacks on our state Supreme Court are simply not true."

Sponsor: Gary Wade

Estimated Spending: $21,200


July 29 - Truth Test

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In this ad, the three justices respond to the claims made against them in the previous attack ads. 

Sponsor: Keep Tennessee Courts Fair, the coordinated campaign to retain justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee, and Gary Wade

Estimated Spending: $268,900


July 24 - Outrageous 

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This ad condemns the "smear campaign" against Wade, Clark, and Lee. 

Sponsor: Tennesseans for Fair Courts

Estimated Spending: $255,650


July 24 - Most Liberal 15

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This ad claims the Tennessee Supreme Court is "liberal on crime" and is "helping advance Obamacare."

Sponsor: Tennessee Forum 

Estimated Spending: $145,930


July 21 - 28 States 15

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This ad criticizes the three justices for being "liberal on the Obama agenda." 

Sponsor: State Government Leadership Foundation 

Estimated Spending: $46,160


July 21 - Passion

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This ad highlights Wade's passion for work, family, and faith. 

Sponsor: Gary Wade

Estimated Spending: $95,660


July 21 - Mickey Barker

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In this ad, retired Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Mickey Barker says "politics has no place in our courts." 

Sponsor: Keep Tennessee Courts Fair (the coordinated campaign to retain justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee, and Gary Wade)

Estimated Spending: $172,420


July 19 - Most Liberal 

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In this ad, the Tennessee Forum calls the state Supreme Court the "most liberal place in Tennessee."

Sponsor: Tennessee Forum

Estimated Spending: $451,040


July 11 - As Tennessee 

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This ad highlights the three justices' experiences upholding the Constitution. 

Sponsor: Keep Tennessee Courts Fair (the coordinated campaign to retain justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee, and Gary Wade)

Estimated Spending: $295,860


News


Brian Haas, TN Supreme Court Battle Brings National Money, Scrutiny, WBIR.com, August 4, 2014. 

Chris Butler, Crime Victims Blast Tennessee Supreme Court Justice, Tennessee Watchdog, July 28, 2014. 

Chris Butler, TN Supreme Court Justices Give Generously to Democratic Candidates, Records Show, Tennessee Watchdog, July 25, 2014.

Phil Williams, Two New Groups Join Supreme Court Battle, News Channel 5, July 22, 2014.

Phil Williams, Who's Really Behind Supreme Court Ad War?, News Channel 5, July 21, 2014. 

State Supreme Court Runs Away from Obamacare Decision, Tennessee Forum, July 19, 2014. 

Tom Humphrey, Supreme Court Retention Vote Topic for Ad CampaignThe Knoxville News-Sentinel, July 11, 2014. 

Andrea Zelinski, Here are the Players - and Issues - In the Supreme Court Retention ElectionsNashville Scene, July 3, 2014. 

Blake Farmer, Unlike Lt. Gov. Ramsey, Lawyers Want to Keep Supreme Court Justices, Nashville Public Radio, June 13, 2014. 

Dahlia Lithwick, How to Take Out a Supreme Court Justice, Slate, June 13, 2014. 

Jennifer Horton, Koch "Sorry" Ramsey's Put Politics into Judiciary, The Wilson Post, May 14, 2014. 

Hank Hayes, Tennessee Supreme Court Justices Vow to Defend Seats Against Ramsey-Lead Attacks, Kingsport Times-News, May 10, 2014. 


Methodology


All data on ad airings and spending on ads are calculated and prepared by Kantar Media/CMAG, which captures satellite data in the nation’s largest media markets. CMAG’s estimates do not reflect ad agency commissions or the costs of producing advertisements, nor do they reflect the cost of ad buys on local cable channels. Cost estimates are revised by Kantar Media/CMAG when it receives updated data, resulting in some fluctuations in the reported ad spending.