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PA Justices Spend More Than $315,000 in Contentious Judicial Retention Races

In the face of politicized anti-retention efforts, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices used television advertisements to help keep their seats in what are generally considered low-key judicial retention races.

November 8, 2013

Pennsylvania Justices Spent More Than $315,000 in TV Ads in Conten­tious Judi­cial Reten­tion Races

Contact: Seth Hoy at (646) 292–8369 or seth.hoy@nyu.edu or Laurie Kinney at (202) 588–9454 or lkin­ney@justiceats­take.org

New York, NY – In the face of politi­cized anti-reten­tion efforts, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices used tele­vi­sion advert­ise­ments to help keep their seats in what are gener­ally considered low-key judi­cial reten­tion races.

Chief Justice Ron Castille and Justice Max Baer shelled out an estim­ated $317,500 on TV advert­ise­ments in support of their campaigns, accord­ing to Kantar Media/CMAG estim­ates released by the Bren­nan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake. Chief Justice Castille spent an estim­ated $66,000 while Justice Baer spent an estim­ated $251,500. Both Justices retained their seats — Chief Justice Castille with 68 percent of the vote and Justice Baer with 71 percent.

Before Elec­tion Day, the Inde­pend­ence Hall Tea Party PAC issued a press release urging Pennsylvani­ans to vote against both justices for not uphold­ing the state’s Voter ID Law in a 2012 ruling. Pennsylvania group Rock the Capital also campaigned against Chief Justice Castille, publish­ing a list of the top 10 reas­ons to oppose his reten­tion, includ­ing poor judi­cial tempera­ment, leas­ing a luxury car at taxpayer expense, and exer­cising polit­ical favor­it­ism.

Judi­cial reten­tion races have become increas­ingly politi­cized in recent years, accord­ing to a recent report by the Bren­nan Center for Justice, Justice at Stake and the National Insti­tute on Money in State Polit­ics. In 2012, reten­tion battles in Flor­ida and Iowa saw prom­in­ent and polit­ic­ally charged chal­lenges to sitting justices. Although Justice were ulti­mately retained, they were embattled in costly reten­tion battles.

See the TV ads here.

TV 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 the firm when it receives updated data, result­ing in some fluc­tu­ations in the repor­ted costs.

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UPDATE: After this press release was issued on Novem­ber 8, 2013, Kantar Media/CMAG decreased its estim­ates for total TV spend­ing in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court race. CMAG’s data edit­ing process may take between three to four months, and estim­ated spend­ing totals may change during this process. The figures, last updated March 26, 2014, are as follows: $205,490 in estim­ated total spend­ing. Estim­ated spend­ing by Justice Castille: $47,250. Estim­ated spend­ing by Justice Baer: $158,240.