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The cost of justice: Alabama’s latest example of money’s effect on elections

Staff Report

In years past, Alabama judicial races set spending records for candidates and special-interest groups. But this year’s race for the Republican nomination for state Supreme Court chief justice will likely not draw the sort of money of earlier campaigns.

It’s not because politically minded donors aren’t willing to cough up contributions. Instead, giving will be low because the primary is March 13, instead of in June, so the fundraising period is shorter. Despite this limitation, candidates for Alabama’s highest judicial office are on the fundraising trail because they know campaigning will be difficult without contributions.

If no Democratic candidate qualifies to run, whoever wins the Republican race will be the chief justice — shades of the days when Alabama was a one-party state.

Of the three candidates vying for the nomination, Mobile circuit judge and former state attorney general Charles Graddick has the largest war chest. With $346,519 in the bank and more coming in, he already is running television ads. If he raises his $1 million goal, he will become a familiar television name and face by the time the election rolls around. Incumbent Chief Justice Chuck Malone is running second with $269,515. He has waited for the Alabama-LSU football game to pass before starting his television ad campaign.

Both Graddick and Malone are getting money from business groups that feel those candidates will hand down business-friendly rulings that have become the hallmark of the Republican-dominated court.

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The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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