Mississippi Supreme Court Race Draws Outside Money

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(Tate County, MS) Up until a couple of weeks ago, most North Mississippians may not have even known who their Supreme Court candidates are, but a recent round of political ads has changed that.

Richard "Flip" Phillips of Batesville is running against Josiah Coleman of Toccopola.

Doug Davis has managed Chancellor Percy Lynchard's 2000 campaign for Supreme Court and says it’s not a race most voters pay attention to ”You’re more interested in who your Chancellor is, or your Circuit Court Judge is than who’s on the State Supreme Court and that’s just a fact of life”.

Voters may not know, but political action committees do, and they’ve recently spent a lot of money on this race.

A Virginia-based group calling itself the “Law Enforcement Alliance of America” recently spent more than 300-thousand dollars against Phillips, explaining:

“LEAA values its role in helping keep Mississippians informed while strongly defending the Second Amendment and the rule of law".

But Davis says the ad has a hidden agenda which has nothing to do with gun control ”If I had to guess I'd suspect it’s either trial lawyers or the business lobby that’s behind this. Absolutely, absolutely those are the two main entities that are interested in who your Supreme Court Justices are".

Why? Because for years Mississippi lawmakers have fought over what’s called tort reform, which would cap damage awards in court cases.

Business wants them, lawyers don’t.

”Every time this comes up it raises the issue of should judges in Mississippi be elected or appointed and I look for that question to be talked about particularly in this election” said Davis.

But those in the know believe these ads can make or break an election.

Davis believes political action committee ads mean almost nothing. He says voters should look at a candidate’s resume and accomplishments and not rely on out of town interests with an agenda.