- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Political contributions to the dozen candidates for three open seats on the state Supreme Court are approaching the $5 million mark, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday.

Democrats outraised Republicans by a lopsided margin through the end of the five-week reporting period Monday, the reports show, and at least four Democratic candidates already have bought expensive TV time to air ads leading up to the May 19 primary election.

The leading fundraisers in the Democratic field, Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty and Superior Court Judge David Wecht of Pittsburgh, who are endorsed by the Democratic State Committee, are planning statewide ad campaigns.

“We want to be in markets across the state up to the end” of the primary campaign, Wecht’s campaign spokesman Ken Smukler said.

Superior Court Judge Anne Lazarus and Jefferson County Judge John Foradora also are airing ads in select Democratic areas, their campaigns said.

The reports filed Friday provided the first glimpse of the candidates’ financial strength since the initial reports were filed by April 7.

But no report was publicly available for Adams County Judge Mike George, a Republican-endorsed candidate who emerged in the initial reports as the top GOP fundraiser thanks to a $500,000 contribution. And Dougherty’s campaign released only a summary of his total contributions and expenditures, withholding portions of the report that identify donors and show how much they gave.

Dougherty, whose family ties have helped him raise generous donations from organized labor, reported $515,000 in new contributions that pushed his total to $1.2 million. He spent more than $677,000 in the latest reporting period.

Wecht took in $282,000, bringing his total to $858,000. He reported expenditures of $377,000 in the latest period. His biggest contribution was $10,000 from a lawyer in Wilmington, Delaware.

Foradora, a newcomer to statewide politics, reported $534,000 in contributions and $357,000 in expenditures during the latest period.

Lazarus increased her fundraising total to $443,000 and reported $142,000 in expenditures, her report says.

Superior Court Judge Christine Donohue reported $339,000 raised and $245,000 in expenditures in the latest period.

On the Republican side, GOP endorsements apparently helped Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey, who has raised $194,000, and Superior Court Judge Judy Olson, whose war chest exploded from $1,100 in her initial report to $119,000 in the latest report.

The other candidates had smaller fundraising totals.

Supreme Court Justice Correale Stevens, who was appointed to the court to fill a vacancy and is seeking election this year, reported raising $124,000.


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