The new filings offer the first look into 2018 fundraising in a three-way competition for the only seat up for election this year on the state's highest court.
Earls, a Durham-based civil rights attorney, raised nearly $375,000 for the six months ending June 30, according to a report that was due last Friday at the state elections board. Jackson, an associate justice first elected to an eight-year term in 2010, raised around $144,000, her campaign report says.
Raleigh-based attorney Chris Anglin, who registered as a Republican recently, joined the race on the final day of filing and was not required to file another report now. He won't have to disclose his donors until the end of October, less than a week from Election Day.
Contributions to candidates' committees are not the only barometer of performance in a race. But the amounts raised by Earls and Jackson - the two party-endorsed candidates - show Earls ahead in the early chase for money, which could be used for campaign ads and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Earls, founder of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, has raised nearly a half-million dollars since 2017, more than twice the amount Jackson has raised in the same period, according to campaign reports. Earls had more than $326,000 cash on hand entering July, compared to Jackson's $133,000. In recent years, outside groups also have spent money in state Supreme Court races.
The Supreme Court race is a three-way affair as the result of last fall's decision by the General Assembly to cancel judicial primaries this year. The cancellation meant multiple lawyers with the same party affiliation could run for the same seat. Anglin filed for the race just three weeks after he switched his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican. Republican leaders are worried Anglin could siphon votes from Jackson.
The GOP-controlled General Assembly passed legislation last week that would prevent Anglin from being labeled a Republican on the November ballot because of his late party switch. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the measure Friday, saying Republicans were unlawfully changing election rules in midstream. Lawmakers plan to return this weekend for an override vote.
Jackson is one of three Republicans currently serving on the seven-member court. In January, a divided Supreme Court ruled in favor of Cooper and against legislative Republicans on laws the GOP passed that attempted to shift control of the state elections board away from the governor.
If Earls wins the November general election, Democrats would hold a 5-2 advantage on the court.
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