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State Supreme Court-Elect Wins Without Outside Money

4 min read

Democrat William O’Neill’s campaign for the Ohio Supreme Court completely broke the mold of this past election season. While candidates across the nation were accepting large donations, O’Neill declined to accept the most meager of campaign contributions.

Instead, O’Neill ran on only $4,000 of his own money and on the mantra “money and judges don’t mix,” a statement against what he deems to be the negative effect campaign money has had on the judiciary system. By ousting his incumbent opponent Republican Justice Robert Cupp with a margin of 52-48, Ohioans showed that they largely agree.

O’Neill and his fellow victorious challenger Republican Sharon Kennedy were the first pair of candidates to knock off two incumbent Ohio Supreme Court justices. While Kennedy’s win that came after a more conventional campaign comes as little surprise, O’Neill himself seems surprised that he got elected. However, he is not surprised that people supported his efforts against outside money.

“The message resonated because of my directing everyone’s attention to the corrosive effect of money on politics, and I think everybody has kind of accepted that that’s how we do things… But I don’t think that anybody is accepting that we should be doing that in the judiciary. It really is offensive,” O’Neill said.

With his slim budget, O’Neill heavily relied on his website to spread word of his campaign.

On his homHYPERLINK “http://www.oneillforjustice.com/about”epageHYPERLINK “http://www.oneillforjustice.com/about”, voters were able to learn more about O’Neill besides his aversion to donations. His biography is a relatively interesting one. Besides 10 years on the 11th District Court of Appeals, O’Neill is a decorated Vietnam veteran and has worked for brief stents doing everything from iron working to TV broadcasting; all of which made him a more than an electable individual.

Through mentioning his views on subjects such as school funding, O’Neill still doesn’t make any excuses for the fact that the primary issue of his campaign was money in politics. He insists that there is something fundamentally flawed about a judge excepting contributions.

He says on his site, “It is simply wrong for a Justice on the Ohio Supreme Court to solicit half-a-million dollars from contributors to get elected and then to sit on cases involving those very same contributors after you are elected.”

O’Neill accused his opponent of being part of this system which he sees as easily corruptible, so it will be interesting to watch if his victory will make an impact on the way future Ohio Supreme Court candidates fundraise.

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