LITTLE ROCK — Spending on television ads in Arkansas’ two Supreme Court races totals slightly over $1 million, two groups that promote judicial reform said Monday.

LITTLE ROCK — Spending on television ads in Arkansas’ two Supreme Court races totals slightly over $1 million, two groups that promote judicial reform said Monday.


Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice said in a joint news release that according to their analysis of public FCC records, spending on the races for chief justice and the seat now held by retiring Justice Paul Danielson more than doubles the state’s previous record of $450,320 that was spent on two Supreme Court races in 2010.


Most of the spending has been in the race for chief justice between Justice Courtney Goodson of Fayetteville and Circuit Judge Dan Kemp of Mountain View.


The conservative Judicial Crisis Network, which is not required to disclose the names of its contributors, has spent at least $604,910 on ads opposing Goodson, according to the release. Goodson has spent $288,005 on ads and Kemp has spent $66,910.


The winner of the race, to be decided March 1, will replace Chief Justice Howard Brill, whom Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed to replace Chief Justice Jim Hannah after Hannah announced he was retiring Sept. 1 because of failing health. Hannah died in January.


In the race to replace Danielson, Little Rock lawyer Clark Mason has spent $51,785 on television ads, while Circuit Judge and former state Rep. Shawn Womack of Mountain Home has not bought any television time, according to the release.


"Arkansas continues to see skyrocketing spending by interest groups in this Supreme Court race," said Susan Liss, executive director of Justice at Stake. "It’s a real problem for voters who get no information about who these groups are, or what courtroom decisions they hope to influence by spending big money."


Alicia Bannon, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, said, "The fact that television spending this year is more than twice the previous state record really speaks to how important ads continue to be in judicial elections. As judges face pressure to act like politicians, their campaigns are increasingly looking like ordinary politics."


The amounts the candidates’ campaigns have reported raising are: Kemp, $281,451; Goodson, $221,155; Womack, $96,415; and Mason, $67,836.


Arkansas’ rules of judicial conduct prohibit judicial candidates form personally soliciting campaign contributions but allow them to set up campaign committees that can solicit contributions on their behalf.