Total candidate fundraising in 2015-16 was approximately $40.7 million (including public financing), slightly higher than in the last presidential election cycle, but short of totals from earlier presidential election cycles in 2003-4 and 2007-08.
About 56 percent of contributions to state supreme court candidates during the 2015-16 cycle came from lawyers, lobbyists, and business interests, a cohort regularly involved in state court matters.
Two states, New Mexico and West Virginia, offered supreme court candidates the option to accept public financing for their supreme court campaigns. In New Mexico, both candidates opted into the system, and nearly all of the expenditures in the race came from public funds. In West Virginia, however, while two of five candidates received public financing, individual candidates were far outspent by outside groups.
Top 10 Candidate Fundraisers, 2015-16
|Candidate||State||Total Contributions Raised|
|1||DOUGHERTY, KEVIN M||PA||$5,650,148|
|2||WECHT, DAVID N||PA||$3,642,568|
|3||DONOHUE, CHRISTINE L||PA||$2,107,886|
|4||GENOVESE, JAMES (JIMMY)||LA||$1,395,721|
|7||BRADLEY, REBECCA GRASSL||WI||$1,096,907|
|9||GOODSON, COURTNEY HUDSON||AR||$1,025,445|
While total fundraising during the cycle did not match prior highs, a number of state high court candidates nevertheless raked in huge sums. Of the top ten candidate fundraisers nationwide, nine raised more than $1 million apiece. Pennsylvania Supreme Court candidate Kevin Dougherty topped the list, raising nearly $5.7 million, principally from labor interests and lawyers and lobbyists.