Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Jim Kitchens is being challenged by Appeals Court Justice Kenny Griffis for a seat on the Mississippi Supreme Court in about three weeks. It’s one of the most impactful elections on the ballot for Mississippians. Anti-business philosophy is alive and well in certain parts of the Mississippi Supreme Court, and this race is an opportunity for conservatives to shed a little light on some of those forces.
Supreme Court races are supposed to be non-partisan but they are largely not. Mississippi Republicans and conservative leaning groups have endorsed Griffis. Trial lawyers statewide and nationwide along with groups like the Sierra Club have emptied their wallets to try and keep Kitchens on the Court by any means necessary. Griffis has employed a mostly conservative circle of campaign advisors. Kitchens has employed Canal Media who has done paid media for big Democratic players and 39th Street Strategies that has worked for Democratic candidates nationwide including jury targeting consulting.
Both candidates have worked hard in the district and have been highly visible. It should be a close race.
Probably, the most impactful thing that you could watch would be both of the candidate’s appearances at the Stennis Institute lunch last week in Jackson.
Kitchens speech seemed to be a trip down memory lane and his campaign plan seems to be to “aw-shucks” folks to death. There appears to be little meat on the bone in his speech other than he seems to be a nice ol’ fella that plays the piano, likes “little people,” wears a robe and irritates his wife in the kitchen.
Griffis’ speech at Stennis was highly detailed. He talked of making the rules that the Supreme Court deliberates by public (did you know they weren’t?). He talked of making real reforms for criminal cases to deal with timely prosecution issues. He talked about instituting rules about prohibiting justices from receiving post-election day contributions (Kitchens received $500K+ within days after his last election – largely from trial lawyers). Griffis also went into the math on the opinions he has written at the Appeals Court level and how much Kitchens differed from his colleagues via dissenting opinions.
The information below between the speeches and campaign finance reports is freely available. For the stakes that this race has, it's gotten scary little attention in the media. We will have more about it as we get closer to the election.