TV Spending in Arkansas Court Race Soars to Nearly $1.3 Million

Total spending on TV ad contracts in Arkansas’ Supreme Court race has risen further into unprecedented territory, with two national interest groups and three out of four candidates airing ads, according to Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice.

TV ad expenditures now stand at $1,290,380 in the election for two seats. The previous annual total for TV spending in an Arkansas Supreme Court election was $450, 320 (also for two seats), which was set in 2010, according to estimates by Kantar Media/CMAG.

The entry of the Republican State Leadership Committee into the ad wars in recent days further expands the gap between outside TV spending and candidate TV ad spending in the race. Together, the RSLC and the other outside group spending on ads, the Judicial Crisis Network, are vastly outspending candidates on TV advertising, with at least $779,780 worth of TV contracts between them. TV ad contracts booked by candidates’ campaigns total hundreds of thousands less, $510,600.

“This is a state Supreme Court race that is being dominated by out-of-state advertising money from national interest groups,” Justice at Stake Executive Director Susan Liss noted in a statement. “When national groups try to hijack a state judicial election to serve their own strategic agendas, it’s unfair to voters, unfair to the state, and terrible for democracy and the courts. Real reform is needed to fix the system that allows this to happen.”