Spending by Jeff Yass-backed PAC tops $4 million in Pennsylvania Supreme Court race

Republican Carolyn Carluccio received support from the Commonwealth Leaders Fund for advertising, text messaging and other voter outreach.

By: - October 26, 2023 6:16 pm

Pennsylvania Supreme Court chambers in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo)

With the Nov. 7 election less than two weeks away, Republican state Supreme Court candidate Carolyn Carluccio reported receiving more than $2.2 million in support for her campaign from a political action committee tied to Pennsylvania GOP mega-donor Jeff Yass.

The spending between Sept. 19 and Monday brings the total the Commonwealth Leaders Fund has spent on behalf of Carluccio’s campaign to nearly $4.4 million, according to campaign finance records filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State

Carluccio’s campaign reported nearly $483,000 in direct contributions, bringing the total since January to $1.7 million with $1.3

Judge Carolyn Carluccio

million in expenditures leaving just over $385,000 cash on hand going into the final two weeks of the campaign.

Carluccio, the president judge of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, is running against Democrat Daniel McCaffery, a state Superior Court judge from Philadelphia.

McCaffery has until Friday to file his campaign finance report. In the last reporting cycle, his campaign reported $1.9 million in contributions since January and $817,113 in spending.

The Commonwealth Leaders Fund spending on media buys, direct mail, text messaging and other voter outreach has more than tripled what Carluccio’s campaign has spent itself. 

A Carluccio victory would not shift the partisan balance of the state’s highest court, but it would put Republicans within one seat of taking a majority the next time an opening is on the ballot, possibly as soon as 2025. Three sitting justices will face retention votes to stay on the bench, but none will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 by then. 

Outside groups have flocked to support McCaffery, including Planned Parenthood’s political arm, which announced last month it was expanding its digital campaign backing McCaffery with a seven-figure television ad buy

In its commercials, Planned Parenthood says Carluccio is “a threat to our abortion rights,” noting that Carluccio deleted her views on abortion from her website and is endorsed by two pro-life groups that oppose abortion. A case challenging the state Medical

Superior Court Judge Daniel McCaffery

Assistance Program’s ban on abortion coverage is currently before the court. 

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee announced earlier this month it planned to make a “six-figure investment” in Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court race, calling it an election that will have “long-term consequences, not just for the court, but for the state Legislature as well.”

Democrats narrowly control the state House with a one-vote majority and redistricting scheduled in 2030 could affect either party’s ability to elect a majority.

The Commonwealth Leaders Fund backs conservative candidates and has received the bulk of its funding since 2018 from the Commonwealth Children’s Choice Fund, which in turn receives most of its money from the Students First PAC.

Yass, a charter school proponent and the former CEO of the securities trading firm Susquehanna International Group, has given nearly $47 million to Students First.

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Peter Hall
Peter Hall

Peter Hall has been a journalist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 20 years, most recently covering criminal justice and legal affairs for The Morning Call in Allentown. His career at local newspapers and legal business publications has taken him from school board meetings to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and many points of interest between. He earned a degree in journalism from Susquehanna University.