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3 candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court have more than $500K on hand for primary election

| Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 11:15 p.m.

Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court race is shaping up to be a multi-million dollar election cycle, with three candidates reporting a half-million dollars on hand six weeks before the primary election.

Campaign finance reports due Tuesday showed Democratic Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty leading the pack with $585,000 and Democratic Superior Court Judge David Wecht of Indiana Township with $546,000 raised through March 30.

Adams County Court Judge Michael George, a Republican, was a close third, reporting about $508,000 on hand.

A dozen candidates are seeking three seats on the state's highest court, an unprecedented number of vacancies. Experts say those with the best name recognition will likely prevail during a primary election in which voter turnout is expected to be low. The top three vote-getters from each party will run in the November general election, which determines who will be on the court.

Finance reports show three Democrats reporting balances well into the six figures: Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Foradora reported about $350,000; Superior Court Judge Anne Lazarus reported $262,000; and Superior Court Judge Christine Donohue said she has $166,000.

Republican Superior Court Judge Cheryl Lynn Allen of Hampton has $5,000 available, though campaign spokeswoman Vonne Andring said Allen won her seat in 2007 “with considerably less money.”

“We're certainly not cocky about it, but she has a considerable statewide network of support,” Andring said.

Supreme Court Justice Correale Stevens' report indicated he had about $44,000 on hand.

“I'm going to try to raise enough money to be competitive, but not enough money that's going to cause ethical problems or perception problems,” he said.

Stevens was appointed to the seat by former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in 2013 to fill the expired term of former Justice Joan Orie Melvin, who resigned because she was convicted of corruption charges. Judges, once elected, run for retention every 10 years.

Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey's campaign reported $37,000 in the bank, and Superior Court Judge Judy Olson had less than $1,000. Figures were not immediately available for Montour County District Attorney Rebecca Warren.

Allegheny County Judge and former Pittsburgh Steeler Dwayne Woodruff, a state Supreme Court candidate with $33,000 on hand, is one of six Democrats in the race. He has name recognition in Allegheny County, but it's a statewide race.

“He's not running based on being a former football player. He was recommended by the (Pa.) Bar Association and his days on the bench,” said Jason Henry, Woodruff's campaign manager.

Adam Brandolph and Melissa Daniels are Trib Total Media staff writers.

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