- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An infusion of cash from organized labor and Philadelphia trial lawyers helped Democratic candidates outpace Republicans in summer fundraising, setting the stage for a high-stakes campaign for three open seats on Pennsylvania’s highest court, campaign finance reports filed Tuesday show.

The Democratic candidates collectively took in $2.4 million during the 13-week period that ended Sept. 14, while the three Republican nominees received $334,000.

David Wecht led the field, raising $1.2 million to replenish a campaign bank account that had shrunk to less than $10,000 during the May primary campaign for the state Supreme Court.

Trailing Wecht were fellow Democrats Kevin Dougherty, who took in $664,000 and Christine Donohue, who received $563,000.

Wecht and Donohue are Superior Court judges based in Pittsburgh and Dougherty is a Philadelphia judge.

None of the other candidates raised more than $200,000.

Among the Republicans, Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey of Bucks County raised $175,000, Adams County Judge Mike George took in $81,000 and Superior Court Judge Judy Olson received $78,000.

The Democrats received generous support from labor groups and the Committee for a Better Tomorrow, a political action trust operated by the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association.

Wecht and Donohue reported contributions of $125,000 each from the trial lawyers’ group. Dougherty’s campaign committee did not make its full report available Tuesday, but spokesman Ken Snyder said Dougherty reported receiving the same amount.

Wecht received contributions of $100,000 from the Carpenters union in Philadelphia and more than $55,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, according to his report.

Paul Panepinto, a Philadelphia judge who is running as an independent, put up $200,000 of his own money to jump-start the campaign he launched in July, according to his report. He listed debts to himself totaling $449,000, including the money he has spent on this campaign and previous ones.

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