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Mississippi judicial candidates receive almost $400k in donations for November election 

The 10 candidates competing in contested judicial elections this year have collectively raised nearly $400,000 in donations since January, and some have injected a substantial amount of their own money into the race, setting the stage for a competitive November election.  

Amy St. Pe, a Pascagoula-based attorney running for a seat on the Court of Appeals, accepted $107,300 in donations since January, making her the candidate who amassed the most in campaign donations. She only spent $942 of that money, leaving her with over $106,000 in cash on hand. 

Her other two competitors for the south Mississippi appellate seat, Ian Baker and Jennifer Schloegel, have also amassed a large amount of campaign cash, making the race for the open seat likely to become extremely expensive. 

Baker, an assistant district attorney on the Coast, raised over $40,000 and loaned his campaign $25,000, giving him at least $65,000 to spend on the race. Schloegel, a chancellor for Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties, raised over $97,000. 

Perhaps the most surprising revelation in the first campaign finance report is the massive amount of money candidates loaned to their campaign accounts. 

Republican state Sen. Jenifer Branning of Philadelphia loaned her campaign account $250,000, as amount more often seen in a statewide or congressional campaign. Branning’s loan and around $68,000 in donations give her around $318,000 to spend. 

Branning is challenging longtime incumbent Jim Kitchens, the second-most senior justice on the court who would become chief justice if current Chief Justice Mike Randolph were to leave his post. 

Kitchens, who occupies one of the seats in the Central District, has been on the court since 2009. He reported raising over $42,000 and spending nearly $20,000, leaving him with around $22,000 in cash on hand. 

The other candidates in the race, Aby Gale Robinson, Ceola James and Byron Carter, did not raise nearly as much as Branning and Kitchens. Robinson reported $0 in donations, James reported $584, and Carter reported nearly $5,000 in donations, supplemented by a $8,000 loan from himself. 

The other contested Supreme Court race between incumbent Dawn Beam and challenger David Sullivan for a seat in the Southern District is also shaping up to be competitive on the fundraising front. 

Beam reported raising over $17,000 since January, while Sullivan, the only challenger, raised $15,000 during that same timeframe. 

Judicial offices are nonpartisan, so candidates do not participate in party primaries. All candidates will appear on the Nov. 5, 2024, general election ballot. If a candidate does not receive a majority of the votes cast, the two candidates who received the most votes will advance to a runoff election on Nov. 26.

Judges on Mississippi’s two highest courts do not run at large. Instead, voters from their respective districts elect them.

The nine members of the Supreme Court are elected from three districts: northern, central and southern. The 10 members of the Court of Appeals are each elected from five districts across the state.

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