It’s been just nine months since the headline-grabbing, multi-million dollar Supreme Court race between Justice Paul Newby and Court of Appeals Judge Sam Ervin IV came to a close, but already Republican candidates for the 2014 high court elections are gearing up for what might be an extravaganza — more candidates and lots more money, particularly if Gov. Pat McCrory signs into law proposals passed by the General Assembly unleash campaign fundraising.
Republican justices currently hold a 4-3 majority on the ostensibly nonpartisan court, and maintaining that control is critical to ensuring Republican control elsewhere throughout the state, according to conservative consultant John Davis — who in reports he’s entitled “How the North Carolina Republican Party Can Maintain Political Power for 114 Years,” has labeled this as his Rule #5: “Lose the courts, lose the war.”
The Republican majority has a right to initiate radical reforms. Everyone else has a right to sue them. That’s why next year’s Supreme Court races are critical for long-term Republican political dominance.
In 2014, four of the seven Supreme Court justice seats are up for grabs.
Chief Justice Sarah Parker, a Democrat, is retiring and Justice Mark Martin, a Republican, is running for her spot. No Democratic candidate has yet announced an intention to challenge Martin for the Chief Justice position.
For Martin’s vacant seat and the other two open seats — held by Democratic Justices Robin Hudson and Cheri Beasley — only Republicans have thrown their hats in the ring so far. Court of Appeals Judge Bob Hunter is running for Martin’s seat (the two have the same campaign treasurer). And Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis from Brunswick County is challenging Justice Beasley. (No one has yet announced a challenge to Justice Hudson.)
And the Republican candidates have their campaigns up and running, particularly Martin, who, according to State Board of Elections records, had already raised nearly $100,000 from contributions through June 30, 2013.
That amount may be just be a fraction of what gets raised and spent if the governor signs House 589, which among other things eliminates public funding for judicial races, raises the amount of permissible contributions to $5000, and minimizes or eliminates disclosure requirements for independent expenditure committees like those that poured millions into the Newby-Ervin race.