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Buying Time 2012: Michigan

This page features Michigan judicial ads of 2012.

Published: September 12, 2012

For information on Michigan's spending, and all other television spending in state supreme court races, click here.

Michigan had three Supreme Court seats up for election this year. Two of those seats were for eight-year positions on the high court. Seven candidates, including incumbent Justice Stephen Markman (R), vied for these seats. In addition, there was also a separate race for a partial-term position that would end Jan. 1, 2015. Three candidates vied for this seat, including incumbent Justice Brian Zahra (R). Justice Zahra was appointed in 2011 to replace Justice Maura Corrigan, who left to lead the Michigan Department of Human Services; this election is to finish her original eight year term. At the time, the Court was composed of four Republicans and three Democrats, which gave this election the potential to change the composition of the bench. (List of candidates here.)

Michigan has seen high levels of spending in Supreme Court elections over the last several election cycles.  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.  In 2010, Michigan had the most expensive judicial race in the country.  Estimated spending was above $5 million on television advertisements alone.

The general election was held on November 6th. The winners of the two eight-year positions were Bridget McCormack and Stephen Markman, and the winner of the partial term ending January 1, 2015 was Brian Zahra. A more detailed summary of airings is available here.

On December 26, 2013 Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that doubles the amount individuals and independent action committees can donate to a candidate, in addition to allowing the donors behind issues ads to remain anonymous. This bill comes in response to efforts by advocates and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to close loopholes in Michigan’s campaign finance laws that allow funders to remain undisclosed. Michigan had the highest state supreme court election spending in the country in 2012, with nearly 75 percent of spending unreported due to the state’s lax disclosure laws. 

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November 5, 2012 - With Your Support 

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An ad by Bridget Mary McCormack saying she will "make sure our Supreme Court follows the rule of law, not politics."

November 1, 2012 - Protecting Children Rev 

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An ad by the Democratic State Central Committee saying, "Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra, Justice Steven Markman, and Colleen O'Brien have protected criminals, not kids." 

November 1, 2012 - Three Protect Families 

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Democratic State Central Committee's combined ad for Connie Kelley, Sheila Johnson, and Bridget McCormack saying they will protect families.

October 30, 2012 - Freed Terrorist

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Ad ad by the Judicial Crisis Network accusing Bridget McCormack of "volunteer[ing] to represent and free suspected terrorists."


October 26, 2012 - Every Election

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A combined ad for Steven Markman and Brian Zahra saying, "We will continue to defend the constitution and protect the rule of law, not special interest."


October 26, 2012 - Praised

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An ad by the Michigan Republican Party saying Sheila Johnson is "a judicial activist with little experience and a favorite of special interests, the same special interests that tried to hijack our constitution."


October 20, 2012 - Remember

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Democratic State Central Committee's combined ad for Connie Kelley, Sheila Johnson, and Bridget McCormack saying there are three reasons to remember these three candidates. 


October 19, 2012 - Hardly Tough on Crime

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An ad sponsored by the Michigan Republican Party against Connie Kelley, Sheila Johnson, and Bridget McCormack saying, "Tough on crime? Hardly."


October 19, 2012 - Three Reasons

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An ad sponsored by the Democratic State Central Committee for Connie Kelley, Sheila Johnson, and Bridget McCormack saying, "There are three reasons to remember three candidates for Supreme Court...middle class families...Michigan kids...women."


October 10, 2012 - As Michigan Rebuilds

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An ad sponsored by the Michigan Republican Party for Brian Zahra, Steven Markman, and Colleen O'Brien saying, "Keep fighting for Michigan."


September 29, 2012 - Insurance Court

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Democratic State Central Committee's combined ad against Brian Zahra, Steven Markman, and Colleen O'Brien saying, "When special interests win, you lose."


September 26, 2012 - Protecting Children

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Democratic State Central Committee's combined ad for Connie Kelley, Sheila Johnson, and Bridget McCormack saying they will protect children.


September 18, 2012 - These Three Rev

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Democratic State Central Committee's combined ad for Connie Kelley, Sheila Johnson, and Bridget McCormack saying they will protect families.


September 4, 2012 - These Three

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Democratic State Central Committee's combined ad for Connie Kelley, Sheila Johnson, and Bridget McCormack saying they will protect families.


News

The Reliable Source, How Michigan Judicial Candidate Bridget Mary Mccormack Got ‘The West Wing’ Cast for Her Campaign Video, Washington Post Blog, September 20, 2012