Most Expensive Montana High Court Race Ever
Special interests inclined to exert their political influence are squaring off and spending big to shape the Montana Supreme Court. In 2014, the Montana Trial Lawyers Association supported incumbent Justice Mike Wheat while the Republican State Leadership Committee backed challenger Lawrence VanDyke, setting a record of $1.6 million for the race, which was won by Wheat with 59 percent of the vote. Only one other state Supreme Court race in the country saw outside groups spend more. Begging the question; should judges ever be elected?
By Constitutional design, elected officials reflect the will of the voters, while jurist should only reflect the strict interpretation of the law. In this year’s race between Dirk Sandefur and Kristen Juras, fundraising by political action committees has reached record levels again. Sandefur’s $900,000 appears to set a record for the most money ever collected to support a single Montana Supreme Court candidate.