Shaw wins expensive battle for Alabama Supreme Court

Legal News Line Nov. 5, 2008, 10:49am

Greg Shaw

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline)--After spending more campaign money than any other state Supreme Court election, Republican Greg Shaw claimed victory over Democrat Deborah Paseur for an open seat on the Alabama Supreme Court on Wednesday morning.

With 99 percent of the state precincts reporting, Bell, a judge on the state court of Criminal Appeals, held a lead over Paseur of just over 14,000 votes despite more than 2 million cast. Statistically, both candidates earned 50 percent of the vote, but Bell had 1,015,330 votes to Paseur's 1,001,186.

Shaw's campaign spokesman Josh Cooper said the narrow margin would be enough for victory as the final votes are tallied and the results certified.

A recent report said the combined spending of the two candidates exceeded $5 million. Paseur, a retired district court judge who spent more than a quarter of a century on the bench, benefited from large contributions from plaintiff trial lawyers and the state teachers union, according to the last spending reports turned in prior to the election.

More than 73 percent of the nearly $2 million raised by Paseur from Sept. 16 to Oct. 29 came from these two groups.

According to those same financial disclosure documents, Shaw, 51, spent more than $1 million over the same roughly five week period. Political action committees contributed more than 91 percent of Shaw's money.

The Alabama Democratic Party poured nearly $1.4 million in the final six weeks on behalf of Paseur, who blanketed the state with advertising leading up to Election Day.

Despite waging a campaign that analysts said is the most expensive in the nation, Paseur based her campaign on judicial reform, particularly the practice of partisan judicial elections.

"We need to get politics out of this race," she said during the campaign, referring to the large amount of money both candidates spent.

Both candidates attacked each other's advertising content, and the source of their campaign contributions in a campaign that turned particularly nasty.

Paseur, 56, was vying to become only the second Democrat on the nine-member court. With Shaw's victory Justice Sue Bell Cobb remains the lone Democrat on the court. Shaw will take the seat of retiring Justice Harold See.

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