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Senate approves public funding for state Supreme Court races

It looks like the state Legislature will not halt the partisan big-money Supreme Court campaigns anytime soon.

The Senate voted 23-10 Tuesday in favor of more tax funding and stricter contribution limits for the justice candidates.

Assembly Speaker Rep. Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, opposes using tax dollars to pay for campaigns so the measure is not likely to come up before the session ends in March.

Democrats tried to avoid a repeat of a year ago when Annette Ziegler beat Linda Clifford in a $6 million race. More than one-third of the money was spent by the state's largest business group which backed the winner.

It looks like this year's race between incumbent Louis Butler and Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman is heading the same way.

Under the Senate's bill, individuals and groups could only give $1,000 to a Supreme Court candidate.

Those who raise $5,000-$15,000 would get $100,000 in state grants for a primary election, and $300,000 for a general election.