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Buying Time 2014 – Michigan

This page features Michigan Supreme Court television advertisements from the 2014 election cycle.

Published: October 13, 2014

Three of Michigan’s seven Supreme Court seats were up for election in 2014. Candidates were nominated at party conventions and ran in nonpartisan elections. Republican Justice David Viviano was reelected after being challenged by Democratic Circuit Judge Deborah Thomas and Libertarian attorney Kerry Morgan. The seats  held by Justices Brian Zahra and Michael Cavanagh were also up for election. Justice Cavanagh, a Democrat, retired, while Justice Zahra, a Republican, sought reelection. Zahra, Republican Circuit Judge James Robert Redford, Democratic Court of Appeals Judge Bill Murphy, Natural Law Party attorney Doug Dern, and Democratic attorney Richard Bernstein ran for the two open seats, which would be filled by the top two vote-getters. Justice Zahra and Richard Bernstein won the November 4 race. 

Estimated Total Spending: $5,865,920*

  • Estimated spending by the Michigan Republican Party: $3,343,720
  • Estimated spending by Richard Bernstein: $1,318,850
  • Estimated Spending by Brian Zahra and David Viviano: $690,710
  • Estimated spending by the Center for Individual Freedom: $468,110
  • Estimated spending by David Viviano: $44,530

*These figures were last updated on November 16, 2014.

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October 28 – If You’re Looking

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This ad says David Viviano is backed by police officers and almost 100 prosecutors and sheriffs. 

Sponsor: David Viviano

Estimated Spending: $44,530

October 24 – Crimes Against Children

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Justices Zahra and Viviano have “thrown the book at violent child predators, ” according to this ad. 

Sponsor: Center for Individual Freedom

Estimated Spending: $468,110

October 23 – Protect Our Children Rev

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In this ad, the Republican Party says Justice David Viviano is a “rule of law judge who interprets the law as it’s written.”

Sponsor: Republican Party of Michigan

Estimated Spending: $445,300

October 23 – Protect Our Children 

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This ad says Justice Brian Zahra works to keep Michigan children safe every day. 

Sponsor: Republican Party of Michigan

Estimated Spending: $417,590

October 20 – Check Their Personal Beliefs

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In this ad, Justices Zahra and Viviano say “judges should check their personal beliefs at the door.”

Sponsor: Brian Zahra and David Viviano 

Estimated Spending: $690,710

October 14 – Life Isn’t Fair

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This ad says Richard Bernstein is a “blind justice for all.” 

Sponsor: Richard Bernstein 

Estimated Spending: $1,318,850

October 1 – How Do You Judge

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This ad praises Justice Viviano, Justice Zahra, and Judge Redford for protecting Michigan kids. 

Sponsor: Republican Party of Michigan

Estimated Spending: $2,480,830


Lester Graham, Truth Squad Calls Foul on Ad for Supreme Court Candidates, Michigan Radio, October 15, 2014. 

Steve Carmody, Heavy Campaign Spending Once Again in Michigan Supreme Court Races, Michigan Radio, September 26, 2014. 


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.