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Buying Time 2015 – Pennsylvania

This page features campaign advertisements from Pennsylvania’s 2015 state supreme court elections.

Published: March 1, 2016

Twelve candid­ates competed in a partisan elec­tion for three spots on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2015. Candid­ates first ran in the May 19 primary. The top three vote-getters from each party advanced to the Novem­ber 3 general elec­tion. Seven candid­ates—­three from the Repub­lican Party, three from the Demo­cratic Party, and one inde­pend­ent—ran in the general elec­tion. The top three vote-getters, Kevin Dougherty (D), David Wecht (D), and Christine Dono­hue (D), were elec­ted to the three open seats with 18.5%, 18.3%, and 18.2% of the vote respect­ively. They defeated Anne Covey (R), Judy Olson (R), Mike George (R), and Paul Panepinto (I). 

Estim­ated Total Spend­ing: $12,400,720*

  • Estim­ated spend­ing by David Wecht: $1,991,160
  • Estim­ated spend­ing by Kevin Dougherty: $3,364,200
  • Estim­ated spend­ing by Anne Lazarus: $359,200
  • Estim­ated spend­ing by Anne Covey: $508,540
  • Estim­ated spend­ing by John Foradora: $246,660
  • Estim­ated spend­ing by Mike George: $425,270
  • Estim­ated spend­ing by Judy Olson: $337,980
  • Estim­ated spend­ing by Christine Dono­hue: $1,263,190
  • Estim­ated spend­ing by Pennsylvani­ans for Judi­cial Reform: $2,902,390
  • Estim­ated spend­ing by the Repub­lican State Lead­er­ship Commit­tee: $993,940 
  • Estim­ated spend­ing by the Pennsylvania Repub­lican Party: $8,190

*Spend­ing figures last updated on March 1, 2016

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Advert­ise­ments


Octo­ber 29 - News­pa­pers Back

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad describes Christine Dono­hue’s endorse­ments, as well as the “highest possible rating from the Bar asso­ci­ation.”

Spon­sor: Christine Dono­hue

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $418,640


Octo­ber 28 - Here They Are

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad calls George, Olson, and Covey “maybe the worst team ever to run for supreme court.”

Spon­sor: Pennsylvani­ans for Judi­cial Reform

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $1,050,510


Octo­ber 27 – Attack Ads

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

In this ad, Dougherty describes his exper­i­ence and creden­tials to refute attack ads.

Spon­sor: Kevin Dougherty

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $771,930


Octo­ber 27 – Tim Wynn Rev

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

Dougherty prom­ises to expand the Veter­an’s Court “so that every veter­an…has equal access to this system.”

Spon­sor: Kevin Dougherty

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $335,720


Octo­ber 27 – Spent My Life 15

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad describes George’s career in public service and his endorse­ments.

Spon­sor: Pennsylvania Repub­lican Party

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $8,190


Octo­ber 26 – Honored 15

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

In this ad, Olson says she suppor­ted by law enforce­ment, small busi­ness, and is “highly recom­men­ded by the Pennsylvania Bar Asso­ci­ation.”

Spon­sor: Judy Olson

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $130,140


Octo­ber 26 – Coming From 15

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad describes Olson’s values of service and integ­rity.

Spon­sor: Judy Olson

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $93,990


Octo­ber 26 – Six Candid­ates

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad high­lights that Covey was the only candid­ate “not recom­men­ded by the Bar Asso­ci­ation.”

Spon­sor: Pennsylvani­ans for Judi­cial Reform

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $587,400


Octo­ber 26 – Born and Raised 15 Rev

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

In this ad George says he is “running for the Supreme Court to restore ethics to the bench.”

Spon­sor: Mike George

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $55,240


Octo­ber 23 – Franco Harris

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

Franco Harris posit­ively high­lights Covey’s role in the Penn State case.

Spon­sor: Anne Covey

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $315,840


Octo­ber 21 – Failed to Protect

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad claims Dougherty “failed to protect a child” in a past ruling.

Spon­sor: Repub­lican State Lead­er­ship Commit­tee

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $237,300


Octo­ber 21 – Exper­i­enced Judges

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad praises Covey and Olson for “keep­ing viol­ent crim­in­als behind bars.”

Spon­sor: Repub­lican State Lead­er­ship Commit­tee

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $756,640


Octo­ber 20 – Schel­ley Gould

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

Det. Gould says Wecht is a “tough on crime judge who has kept crim­in­als off our streets.”

Spon­sor: David Wecht

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $829,830


Octo­ber 20 – Tim Wynn

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

Dougherty will “make sure Veter­ans Court is expan­ded.”

Spon­sor: Kevin Dougherty

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $302,540


Octo­ber 19 – Olson Out of Touch

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad says Olson is “completely out of touch with most Pennsylvani­ans.”

Spon­sor: Pennsylvani­ans for Judi­cial Reform

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $383,310


Octo­ber 19 – Covey Has A Prob­lem Rev

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad accuses Covey of dishon­esty.

Spon­sor: Pennsylvani­ans for Judi­cial Reform

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $16,650


Octo­ber 19 – Come Under Criti­cism

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad states that George has “come under criti­cism for fail­ing to protect women and chil­dren.”

Spon­sor: Pennsylvani­ans for Judi­cial Refom

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $646,350


Octo­ber 19 – Covey Has A Prob­lem

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad says “Pennsylvania needs judges whose honesty is unques­tioned. Not Anne Covey.”

Spon­sor: Pennsylvani­ans for Judi­cial Reform

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $218,170


Octo­ber 16 – Little Girl

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad discusses Dono­hue’s upbring­ing and educa­tional and legal back­ground.

Spon­sor: Christine Dono­hue

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $310,420


Octo­ber 15 – Stephen Zappala Sr.

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

Former Pennsylvania Chief Justice Stephen Zappala Sr. endorses Kevin Dougherty.

Spon­sor: Kevin Dougherty

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $376,420


Octo­ber 8 – Past Seven Years

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

Dono­hue says “it’s time to bring integ­rity back to the supreme court.”

Spon­sor: Christine Dono­hue

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $534,130


Octo­ber 7 – Dad Taught Me

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

In this ad, Wecht emphas­izes fair­ness because “protect­ing famil­ies is my prior­ity”

Spon­sor: David Wecht

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $144,520


Octo­ber 6 – Needed A New Leader

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad describes Dougher­ty’s accom­plish­ments in the legal profes­sion.

Spon­sor: Kevin Dougherty

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $247,740


Octo­ber 6 – Parents Taught Me

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

In this ad, Wecht says “noth­ing is more import­ant than honesty and integ­rity.”

Spon­sor: David Wecht

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $434,640


May 11 – Spent My Life 15

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

“I’ve spent my life in public service,” says George, in this ad. 

Spon­sor: Mike George

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $71,930


May 11 – Worked My Way 15

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad high­lights George’s educa­tion and back­ground. 

Spon­sor: Mike George

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $63,860


May 11 – Born and Raised 15

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad discusses George’s back­ground as a steel mill worker and district attor­ney. 

Spon­sor: Mike George

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $79,040


May 11 – Earned the Endorse­ment 15

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

In this ad, Olson says she has earned the support of law enforce­ment. 

Spon­sor: Judy Olson

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $69,880


May 11 – Support of Law Enforce­ment 15

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

Olson says she “share[s] your values,” in this ad. 

Spon­sor: Judy Olson

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $43,970


May 11 – Seth Willi­ams

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

A district attor­ney and child welfare advoc­ate support Dougherty, in this ad. 

Spon­sor: Kevin Dougherty

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $374,440


May 11 – Endorsed Repub­lican 15

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

Mike George says he is running for the supreme court to “restore ethics to the bench.”

Spon­sor: Mike George

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $155,200


May 10 – Raised

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad high­lights Dougher­ty’s exper­i­ence and profes­sional accom­plish­ments. 

Spon­sor: Kevin Dougherty

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $460,940


May 8 – No Polit­ical Bosses Here

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

John Foradora “knows work­ing class famil­ies,” accord­ing to this ad. 

Spon­sor: John Foradora

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $246,660


May 8 – National Disgrace

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad calls the Pennsylvania Supreme Court a “national disgrace” and says Lazarus is the “person the other judges turn to for discip­line.”

Spon­sor: Anne Lazarus

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $359,200


May 8 – Honesty

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

David Wecht says he is push­ing for the toughest judi­cial ethics laws in the coun­try, in this ad. 

Spon­sor: David Wecht

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $152,390


May 7 – Back­bone 15

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad argues Covey has the back­bone needed to be on the supreme court. 

Spon­sor: Anne Covey

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $137,550


May 7 – Back­bone

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad says Anne Covey is “the one judge we know can handle the biggest cases.”

Spon­sor: Anne Covey

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $55,150


May 6 – These Robes

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

In this ad, Wecht says he will “restore Pennsylvani­a’s trust in our supreme court.”

Spon­sor: David Wecht

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $263,140


May 5 – His Black Robe

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ads says Dougherty believes his black robe is a “symbol of hope.”

Spon­sor: Kevin Dougherty 

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $494,470


April 30 – What’s Needed

Stream Video (QT) | Down­load Story­board

This ad praises Wecht’s exper­i­ence and integ­rity. 

Spon­sor: David Wecht

Estim­ated Spend­ing: $166,640


News


Chris­tian Alex­an­der­sen, “We Need a Spirit of Reform”: Demo­cratic Candid­ates for PA Supreme Court Promote Trans­par­ency, pennlive.com, April 29, 2015. 

Melissa Daniels, Lawyers Donate Thou­sands of Dollars to Pennsylvania Supreme Court Race, Trib­Live, April 26, 2015. 

Melanie Orlins, Supreme Court Race Expec­ted to Be a 'Game Changer’, Fox 43, April 21, 2015. 

GOP Court Hope­ful Gets $500,000 Contri­bu­tion, Still Trails 2 Dems, Asso­ci­ated Press via The Herald, April 19, 2015. 


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.