David Yates Mar. 31, 2014, 5:55pm

AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) - A heated primary battle may have given the incumbent Texas Supreme Court justices up for re-election a financial edge, or at least a head start, over their Democratic challengers.

William Moody, an El Paso district judge who previously ran for the Texas Supreme Court, will square off against Chief Justice Nathan Hecht this November.

Heading into the March 4 primary, Hecht had nearly $150,000 left in his war chest, according to the Texas Ethics Commission.

Hecht spent more than $339,000 in the weeks leading up to the Republican primary to defeat Robert Talton.

As of March 31, a search on the TEC database did not show any active PACs supporting Moody.

However, in past campaigns, the bulk of Moody's political contributions came from Texas law firms and trial lawyers, including donations from the Provost Umphrey Law Firm and the late John O'Quinn.

In Place 6, Judge Lawrence Meyers, who was elected to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1992 as a Republican but switched parties in December, is challenging Justice Jeff Brown.

By the end of 2013, Meyers maintained $441 in total contributions and had outstanding loans totaling $92,386.72, campaign finance reports show.

His opponent, Brown, exhausted more than a half-million dollars in the GOP primary but still had $47,310.10 in his war chest as of Feb. 22, according to the TEC.

Perhaps the biggest financial advantage for a Republican comes in the race for Place 7.

Justice Jeff Boyd ran for re-election unopposed in the GOP primary but now faces competition from Democratic nominee Justice Gina Benavides, who has served on the Texas 13th Court of Appeals since 2006.

According to a TEC report filed Jan. 15, Texans for Boyd maintained $440,905.97 in total contributions.

Conversely, from July 1 to Dec. 31, Benavides earned $2,500 in political donations.

However, in past campaigns Benavides has received donations worth thousands of dollars from Houston plaintiffs attorney Steve Mostyn - the No. 1 funder of Democrats in the state.

From Legal Newsline: Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com

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