Negative ads: The race for Pa.’s high court hits the low road

Pennsylvania Politics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvanians will elect a new supreme court justice next Tuesday and the negative campaign ads have been flying, leaving many wondering if the race for Pa.’s top court has gone too low.

“Maria McLaughlin, the wrong choice for supreme court,” the commercial said. “Chose to void guilty plea of a drunk driver who killed a pregnant woman and her unborn child.”

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It is a shot by Republican Kevin Brobson, Pa. supreme court candidate, against a Democrat who is supremely agitated.

“It’s a clear and flagrant violation,” Maria McLaughlin (D), Pa. supreme court candidate. said. And, McLaughlin says, disingenuous.

“The defendant never got out of jail for one minute. Was that told on the commercial?” McLaughlin asked.

She responded with a shot at Brobson. “Sadly, my opponent is silent while his supporters lie and spend millions to buy the court,” the response ad said.

Deborah Gross, with Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, supports merit selection of judges, rather than elections. She says campaign cash and the courts are a bad combination.

“If it’s from a lawyer, right, we’re concerned because that lawyer could be in front of the judge,” Gross said.

I asked Brobson if the drunk driver ad crossed the line.

“Those who are criticizing the tone of this election I don’t necessarily disagree with them but they might have short memories,” Brobson said.

Brobson says contributions have gone high and the ads have gone low for several cycles now. This race is estimated at $6 million.

“Third-party groups and special interests have poured their money into effecting the outcome of these races and supporting one candidate or another and unfortunately their ads aren’t always flattering,” Brobson said.

Brobson thinks Pennsylvanians can cut through the noise. “I trust the voters to make educated decisions and I think they will on Nov. 2,” Brobson said.

But, are these ads helping them do it?

“My grandchildren were crying when they saw the commercial, they thought I was in jail,” McLaughlin said.

The current makeup of the supreme court is five Democrats and two Republicans, but the open seat is that of retiring Republican Tom Saylor, so they’re in danger of falling behind five to one, so there might be a sense of urgency for Republicans.

For more information on Judge Kevin Brobson’s supreme court campaign, click here. Want to learn more about Judge Maria McLaughlin’s supreme court campaign? Click here.

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