The eight-candidate race for the District 5 seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court attracted nearly $2 million in campaign contributions by Oct. 17, records of the Louisiana Ethics Administration showed Tuesday.
More than $1.98 million was attracted from lawyers, businesses, small-dollar contributors, big-dollar contributors and some of the candidates themselves.
The election is scheduled for Nov. 6, but so far, the national Republican and Democratic parties and their large soft-money donations have not appeared on paper for the benefit of the candidates receiving in-state party endorsements.
Republican Judge Jewel “Duke” Welch, of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, topped all candidates with $528,453 in contributions — including $100,000 he loaned his campaign.
Next in total contributions was longtime Baton Rouge lawyer Mary Olive Pierson, a Democrat, who reported $432,391 in receipts, including $333,578 in loans she poured into her campaign.
Republican Judge William A. Morvant, endorsed by the influential Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, reported receipts of $371,779. Morvant serves on the 19th Judicial District Court.
District 5 includes the parishes of East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Livingston, Ascension, Iberville and Pointe Coupee.
That territory became District 5 in 1999. Its Supreme Court seat has never been occupied by either a Republican or a black judge.
Judge Jeff Hughes, of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, is attempting to break the barrier to Republicans for the second time.
Hughes reported campaign contributions totaling $289,354. He lent his campaign $250,100 of that total.
Hughes opposed Chief Supreme Court Justice Kitty Kimball four years ago, when she won re-election for a 10-year term.
The District 5 winner this year will occupy Kimball’s seat for only the remaining six years of her current term. She has announced she will retire in January.
The District 5 winner will not become chief of the high court while Justice Bernette Johnson remains on that bench. Under court seniority rules, Johnson will succeed Kimball as chief of the Supreme Court.
Democrat Judge John Michael Guidry, also of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, received the endorsement of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Guidry would be the first black justice to hold the District 5 seat on the high court.
Guidry reported contributions totaling $84,853. He lent his campaign $50,214 of that total.
The Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish endorsed both Judge Toni Higginbotham, of the 1st Circuit, and Judge Tim Kelley, of the 19th Judicial District Court.
Higginbotham reported campaign contribution receipts of $159,726.
Kelley reported campaign contribution receipts of $113,388.
The eighth candidate in the race is Jeffry Sanford, a Baton Rouge attorney who claims no party. Sanford reported campaign contribution receipts of $151.
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