Big Bucks in the Superior Court Race

The most closely watched race locally this fall is bound to be the four way race for two Superior Court seats covering Orange and Chatham Counties.

The candidates are incumbents Carl Fox and Allen Baddour, and challengers Adam Stein, a distinguished civil rights attorney and Chuck Anderson, a current District Court judge. In the May primary, Fox emerged as a clear winner. Stein is the favorite for the second seat, but Anderson and Baddour did not run too far behind him in the May primary.

The recent release of second quarter campaign finance reports indicates a lot of money is being spent in this race.

Stein's the leader. He's already raised over 82k and spent 57k, leaving him with a little over $25,000 in the bank.

His famous contributors include:
-Former Superior Court judge Wade Barber
-Former Speaker of the House Dan Blue
-Community leader Robert Seymour
-Independent Weekly President Steve Schewel
-Former Chapel Hill mayor Ken Broun
-Former NCCU Chancellor Julius Chambers
-Former US Solicitor General Walter Dellinger
-Former Town Council member Joe Herzenberg
-Current Town Council member Mark Kleinschmidt
-State Representative Paul Luebke
-Former UNC Law Dean Gene Nichol
-Former Town Council member and prominent blogger Jim Protzman

and many, many more. Clearly a strong progressive backing both locally and across the state.

Next up in the money race is Allen Baddour. He's raised over 56k, and spent a little under 47k, leaving him with almost $9,000. His famous contributors include:

-UNC Trustee Paul Fulton
-Major UNC donor Maurice Koury
-State Secretary of Health and Human Services Carmen Hooker Odom
-OP mainstay Will Raymond
-UNC Trustee Rusty Carter
-Former UNC interim Chancellor Bill McCoy
-UNC Trustee and local developer Roger Perry
-Powerful State Senator Tony Rand
-Pittsboro mayor Randy Voller

An impressive list of powerful and rich folks across the state, and one I'm sure Will Raymond never could have imagined himself on! A fact that I think speaks to Baddour's ability to appeal to a wide variety of people- but also that could make some suspicious of him locally considering past consternation about UNC trustee money in Town Council elections.

Next up is Carl Fox, the front runner. He's raised a little over 28k and spent over 26k, leaving him with under $2,000 in the bank. It may seem counterintuitive that the first place finisher would have spent so much less than two candidates who ran well behind him, but Carl's personal popularity and long record as an office holder make him virtually unbeatable.

His famous contributors include:
-Former Chapel Hill major Ken Broun
-Former judge Gordon Battle
-Former UNC basketball coach Bill Guthridge
-Former Town Council member Edith Wiggins
-OP poster and town volunteer superstar George Cianciolo
-Current Town Council member Mark Kleinschmidt
-UNC Women's Soccer coach Anson Dorrance
-Former Superior Court judge Wade Barber
-VilCom (WCHL) President Jim Heavner
-Former OCDP chair Barry Katz

A list of contributors that seems to reflect the various elements of our community- not a surprise that he finished so far ahead of the field in May.

And finally, Chuck Anderson. He's raised almost 25k and spent a little under 14k, leaving with him with a little more than $10,000 in the bank.

His famous contributors include:
-Chapel Hill mayor Kevin Foy
-Former judge Patricia Love
-Former UNC history professor William Leuchtenburg
-Chatham activist Kathy Seaton

and most likely many others but only the big $ contributors get their names on the report- although Carl Fox chose to identify many of his smaller dollar contributors by name on his second quarter report.

Full disclosure: I'm a strong supporter of Adam Stein, although I think all four are quality candidates. I tried to list all the individual contributors for each candidate that I thought a lot of OP readers would be familiar with.

Anyway, does all this money bother you? It seems like a lot for Orange and Chatham, but it is exceptionally rare to have a situation like this where there are no elected incumbents.

issue: 

Total votes: 122

Comments

Hey, you forgot to list me among Stein contibutors. ;-)

He did say something about powerful AND famous ;-)

Is Ruby powerful OR famous? which one?

Tom,

First, let me begin to answer your question "does all this money bother you?" with a totally irrelevant question/statement. Ruby, you're on your honeymoon! Enjoy it and stop reading OP.org. It's in good hands with Tom and will be here when you get back. Enjoy your honeymoon - hopefully it will be your one and only, God willing.

Now, onto the question you asked Tom: No, the money doesn't bother me. Given the relative affluence of this community, I don't think the numbers you've given are inappropriate for a elected position that has so much potential power/effect. As I've said previously on this site, I see nothing wrong with citizens supportingly their candidates of choice as long as there are no expectations that such support will bring favored treatment in official civil proceedings.

Nice selective reading of the contributor lists, Tom! And who cares if a contributor is "famous" or not? (Smiley face, smiley face, however the hell you do that icon thingy.)

You forgot to mention all the lawyers (all of whom on the lists of the two candidates who pledged not to take money from lawyers who might be heard by them. Oopsy.

You forgot to list me on Judge Baddour's list. Or a host of other progressives who may not be famous enough for you.

I would never vote for Adam Stein, not if _he_ paid _me_. He can't serve the full term, only 2 1/2 years of an 8-year term. I value my vote and that job more than to vote for someone running a vanity campaign. Especially a man running a vanity campaign and buying his way into office. Adam Stein has singlehandedly ruined judicial races in this district for the forseeable future by raising so much money and spending so much of his own money. (He's spent nearly as much of his own money as Judge Anderson has raised and spent from the community.)

The cost of running for that office has just quadrupled and more, thanks to Adam Stein. The size of Adam Stein's war chest was well-known at the beginning of this race. He's forced Judge Baddour to try to keep up just to hold onto his job, a job that he's done extremely well, earning him praise. Unlike Adam Stein, Judge Baddour has no other job, or extensive personal wealth, to fall back on. He's all in, to use a poker term, and committed to serving this district for years to come.

Throw off a young, smart, proven, progressive jurist with a long future ahead of him to elect a man who can barely serve a third of the term before he heads off to have clambakes in Maine? Are you kidding?

No, Adam Stein has done this district no favors by raising all this money and running this slick campaign of his, to answer your question.

Oops, there's a typo in there. That sentence should read, "You forgot to mention all the lawyers who show up on the lists of the two candidates who pledged not to take money from lawyers who might be heard by them."

Duncan-

You are more than welcome to go through the reports and put together a list of contributors well known to the OP community you think I missed. I did not see your name on any of the reports with the SBOE, and if I had I certainly would have listed you. The vast majority of contributors on the lists are reported as 'Aggregated Individual Contribution,' so I have no doubt that there are many well known local progressives who donated to Judge Baddour that were not named on the reports.

Here's a direct link to Allen Baddour's contributor information for each quarter so far this year, in the interest of full disclosure since Duncan doesn't think I was fair-

http://tinyurl.com/g4wv2
http://tinyurl.com/gybj6

Tom, though he did question the completeness and the lack of of an analysis of the lawyer contributors, I don't think Duncan said you were unfair in disclosures.

Unlike GeorgeC, I'm troubled by the amount of money in both this race and the BOCC race (of which I'll be finally reporting on after the upcoming mid-term campaign reports [due Friday]). Duncan is correct in his concerns about Stein's example.

Raising a ton of cash sets a terrible precedent and shows poor judgement. We've had few examples (some rather recent) of folks trying to "buy" a spot - some more effective than others.

As far as the reports - it's a shame that the candidate reports, again for both the BOCC and these judgeships, don't have the contributor data for contributions of at least $50 or more. I reported as completely and as timely as possible on all my contributions, though, unlike a few of my fellow candidates, the monies I dealt with were rather small ;-).

A commitment to transparency followed by a demonstration would serve any candidate well...

Again, I agree with Duncan that Allen is a young, smart, proven, progressive jurist with an excellent track record to-date. Beyond meeting the challenging demands of this judgeship, Allen has developed a platform that lays out a specific agenda with measurable goals. Bringing services to Chatham's citizenry, streamlining the system, proposing a compassionate (and quite cost-effective) 1st time drug offenders program, etc. - there's some real substance to what he wants to get done in his eight years on the bench.

Finally, in case you missed it, I supported both Baddour and Anderson during the primary.

Is anyone aware of any US jurisdiction that has successfully been able to control campaign spending? Every endeavor that I'm aware of is so fraught with loopholes that a committee/candidate can easily get around the existing restrictions.

Just like the illogic of trying to protect our flag by outlawing flag burning, there is either free speech or there isn't. Spending for political purposes is exercising free speech.

What's the solution? Candidate can only "buy" an election if a person's vote is for sale. An informed, involved and attentive electorate should be smart enough to vote for the candidates that don't offend their sense of right and wrong. Idealistic I know, but the alternative of limiting free speech is a much worse in my opinion. And as Will Raymond is fond of pointing out, transparency is the key.

Now that that's solved, how do we get more people to vote? :-)

Mandatory voting--like they have in Australia--$20 fine if you don't vote--doctor's excuses accepted?

That, or we can just all accept that it's bread-and-circuses time...

melanie

Oh we can do what Arizona is proposing... $1,000,000 to a lucky voter

True campaign reform would come about when all contributions would be limited to $50 or $100 per candidate, per year, for both individuals and PACs. Then, I would have as much donating power for an individual candidate as the Pork PAC or Bill Gates.

But Robert, contributions are only part of the issue. As long as the Pork Pac can spend any ammount that it wants to advance an issue or a candidate, the power will not be equal.

There's a couple of issues present for me...

First, even if contributions were limited to $50, that would add up quickly for an entire ballot. It's more fair, but not entirely fair.

Second, Judges seem different than politicians to me. I think I'd rather they be appointed. A panel seeking to appoint based on merit, or even a politician making appointments, just feels better to me than a full on political campaign.

Third, there really seems to be a losing battle in governing contributions. The more you govern, the more (it seems) that you create advantages for those that seek to push the envelope. I would like to see more efforts made in alternative strategies.

Campaign speech has always been an issue we've had to deal with. However, the constitutional framers had to deal with inequities from those who could afford a printing press or the services of a printing press. Today the playing field is far more level, at least with simply getting a message out. I think the blame for present day inequities are to be squarely placed upon ourselves. We let the money ruin these campaigns.

I agree that more votes is a better solution. I agree that more informed votes is a better solution.

I've broken down some of the numbers over at CitizenWill.

The numbers are boggling in scope (and a bit depressing if this is a harbinger of things to come).

A quick couple observations:

Baddour loans account for $30+K. Stein $5K.
Baddour's individual contributions increase steadily over the last couple months. Stein's fell.$15+K to $7+K.

A couple folks have suggested this years money-race represents an outlier due to the unusual configuration of candidates. I hope they're correct.

DISCLAIMER: I support Judge Baddour and Judge Anderson, but, again, we're drowning in riches. All the candidates are top notch.

Thanks Tom, I noticed that Judge Baddour and Attorney Stein were

Baddour's report (as data, image to follow) is here.

Stein's [amended] report (again, as data) is here.

Anderson's report will appear here.

Fox's report here.

The promptness of Stein and Baddour (and possibly Fox and Anderson) is quite encouraging.

I hope that since the Oct. 22nd - Nov. 7th reports will be in too late to matter, the candidates will consider pre-releasing their contributions leading into Nov. 7th on the 6th.

Stein and Baddour's reports are out for the next quarter and Baddour has taken the lead with $139,626.76 raised and $105,506.85 spent.

Stein has raised $125,084 and spent $93,877.54

I assume Anderson and Fox's will be considerably less when they come out although Anderson has been doing a fair amount of mail.

I just want to give kudos to Carl Fox, who it appears to me listed every one of his individual contributors on his final finance report, going well beyond the legal requirements. Good for him!

Anderson and Baddour quickly responded to my request for info. Stein a bit slower (though I think this was related to scheduling issues). Fox I never heard back from via email, though he did give me a ballpark figure late in the game.

I agree that this was good but I hope, some day soon, that this is a matter of course - that candidates demonstrate by doing.

I think that it's really great that candidates tell us who gave them money and how much. Of course, knowing this information and using it to help make a decision is another story.

As long as there are so many legal ways to spend on behalf of a candidate and using money that will never show up on a candidate's filing, we are only adding apples to oranges to pears and then dividing by bananas.

The fundamental flaw is that some will always believe that certain people who make any contribution to a candidate will receive a return on their "investment" that is shady at best and illegal at worst. How often is that really the case?

Let's get Bunkey Morgan in on this one...

 
 

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