BRIAN PERRY/Judicial financing

How much does it cost to run a campaign for chancery or circuit judge in Mississippi? For most incumbent judges the cost of reelection is merely the $100 qualifying fee. Of the 53 circuit judges, 37 are unopposed incumbents; and of the 49 chancery judges, 40 are unopposed incumbents.

For those with challengers and in open seats, it can get a bit more costly. But a review of the July 10 periodic campaign finance reports show the campaigns are raising fairly modest amounts of contributions. In the 24 competitive races, the candidates have raised a combined $645,396 by the end of June. Still, many of the campaigns are just now getting started and we’ll have a better idea after the October 10 reports are due. These nonpartisan candidates are on the November 4 ballot.

Nearly 30 percent of the total raised statewide has been contributed to one candidate. Gulfport Municipal Judge Robert Fant Walker reported raising $190,276 for the now open circuit seat in Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties. Incumbent Judge John C. Gargiulo had filed for reelection but many expected him to withdraw from the race, which he did when he was chosen as a U.S. magistrate judge for Mississippi’s Southern District. Gargiulo will now serve with Walker’s father, Judge Robert H. Walker, himself a former circuit judge turned federal magistrate (and nephew of former Mississippi Chief Justice Harry Walker). Walker’s opponents, former assistant district attorney Chris Schmidt and Gulfport Councilman Myles Sharp, reported raising $55,450 and $3,000 respectively. (Mississippi Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr. appointed a retired county judge as special judge to manage the cases in Gargiulo’s vacant seat until November 30.)

Only three other candidates – all three incumbents – across the state have raised more than $50,000 as of their July reports.

Madison County Journal
8/27/14