“You lose here in Greenwood Circuit Court on a trial and you’re found responsible for the death of a child because you’ve screwed up, then you can count on the Supreme Court to let you off,” Barton said.
Barton said he’s borrowed $150,000, some of that on his personal credit card, to finance his underdog campaign. He said Lamar has a campaign war chest of between $200,000 and $400,000.
Barton criticized Gov. Haley Barbour for endorsing Lamar, whom Barbour appointed, and the state Republican Party for endorsing Lamar and other candidates backed by the medical association.
The Supreme Court race is nonpartisan, but Barton said he had received an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and the state Democratic Party.
The attorney also said the state chapter of the NAACP is helping his campaign. The group has not given an official endorsement, but “they’ve given us all sorts of names and all sorts of sources,” he said.
He said Jackson attorney Isaac K. Byrd Jr., the pro bono counsel for the Mississippi Conference of the NAACP, also has helped.
Barton also linked his campaign to that of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
“In fact — this was before I got in the race — I was going to put all of my energy into Obama’s campaign,” he told the Democratic crowd to sustained applause.
He said his support for Obama early on had his neighbors talking.
“They said, ‘Gene Barton, he’s got an Obama sign in his yard. Nobody else has one in the whole county,’” Barton said.
Barton said Leflore County’s majority-black population may well determine whether Obama’s candidacy tips the scale in favor of Democratic — and nonpartisan — races down the ticket.
“In all the other elections, when Obama has been on the ticket, people turn out in masses. I mean, you’ve never seen such a turnout,” he said.
Barton then said Obama was “very worthy of the office” of president before adding, “But I’m not supposed to endorse anybody. I still have an opinion. It is hard to shut me up.”