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Judicial candidates in contested elections raise nearly $130,000 in May 

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Judicial candidates in contested elections raise nearly $130,000 in May 

Jun 13, 2024 | 2:10 pm ET
By Taylor Vance
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Judicial candidates in contested elections raise nearly $130,000 in May聽
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A three-judge panel of the Mississippi Supreme Court listens to arguments over a state law that would put $10 million of federal pandemic relief money into infrastructure grants for private schools, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The 10 candidates running in a contested election for a seat on the Mississippi Supreme Court or the Mississippi Court of Appeals collectively raised just over $126,000 during May, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Secretary of State’s office. 

The candidate who raised the most money during May was 8th District Chancery Judge Jennifer Schloegel who is running for the open seat on the state Court of Appeals. 

Schloegel’s campaign raised over $42,000 last month, totaling over $140,000 she has raised so far this year. Of that money, she has spent around $25,000 this year, leaving her with around $123,751 in cash on hand. 

The Gulf Coast-based District 5 race that Schloegel and her two opponents—Pascagoula-based attorney Amy St. Pe and Caost-based prosecutor Ian Baker—are competing in is shaping up to be the most expensive of the three contested judicial elections this cycle. 

St. Pe’s campaign committee amassed just over $24,000 in donations last month, totaling around $131,000 she’s raised so far this year. Of that money, she’s spent a total of $29,510 this year, leaving her with over $101,000 in cash on hand. 

Baker’s campaign raised  $3,200 last month, bringing his total this year to around $68,051. He’s spent around $950 this year, leaving him with over $67,000 in cash on hand. 

The second-most expensive race is the contested central district Supreme Court race, in which incumbent Justice Jim Kitchens faces four different challengers. Kitchens, currently the second-most senior justice on the court, raised around $18,000 last month, bringing his total raised this year to $60,000. Of that money, he spent $33,000, leaving him with around $27,000 in cash on hand. 

Republican state Sen. Jenifer Branning of Philadelphia is cementing herself as the top challenger in the race by raking in $77,000, for a total of $145,000 raised this year. She’s spent $27,000 so far and loaned her campaign $250,000, leaving her with over $368,000 in cash on hand. 

The other three candidates in the central district race —  Jackson-based attorney Abby Grace Robinson, former Court of Appeals Judge Ceola James and Hinds County attorney Byron Carter — raised nominal amounts compared to the other two. 

Robinson has not raised or spent any money this year, James has only raised around $1,700 this year and Carter has raised around $5,600 so far. 

In the contested Supreme Court seat in the southern district, incumbent Justice Dawn Beam and challenger David Sullivan remain almost neck-and-neck in fundraising. 

Beam raised $18,800 last month, totaling $36,350 this year. She’s spent over $16,000 so far, leaving her with around $20,000 in cash on hand. 

Sullivan, a south Mississippi-based attorney, raised nearly $20,000 in May, for a total of around $35,000. He’s spent just over $1,000 this year, leaving him with over $34,000 in cash. 

Candidates must disclose their campaign expenditures again by 5 p.m. on July 10. While the amount of money a candidate has on hand is not necessarily a sign of their political strength, it can be a strong indicator of how they’ll fare on Election Day. 

Judicial offices are nonpartisan, so candidates do not participate in party primaries. All candidates will appear on the Nov. 5, 2024, general election ballot. If a candidate does not receive a majority of the votes cast, the two candidates who received the most votes will advance to a runoff election on Nov. 26.

Judges on Mississippi’s two highest courts do not run at large. Instead, voters from their respective districts elect them.

The nine members of the Supreme Court are elected from three districts: northern, central and southern. The 10 members of the Court of Appeals are each elected from five districts across the state.