Court race: Coleman relies on PACs, Phillips on attorneys

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Campaign fund sources show something about North Mississippi’s Supreme Court race pitting attorneys Josiah Coleman of Oxford and Flip Phillips of Batesville.
More than 61 percent of Coleman’s $182,329 contributions come from 27 political action committees and 43 medical professionals. Phillips’ $245,356 total includes 57.4 percent from 84 attorneys and 48 business people.
This week’s campaign finance report is the next to last before the Nov. 6 non-party election to succeed Justice George Carlson of Batesville, who plans to retire after his term ends in December.
The final pre-vote report is due Oct. 30 at the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office.
Coleman’s latest report is his strongest yet for the 13-year attorney who touts his research and writing skills over Phillips’ extensive experience.
Despite a PAC-purchased TV ad claiming Phillips is anti-business, Phillips’ finance committee is a cross-section of the region’s most successful business, legal and education citizenry headed by retired Mississippi Air National Gen. Blair Jernigan.
Among the best-known Phillips Finance Committee members in Northeast Mississippi are Itawamba Community College President David Cole, Fulton businessman Johnny Crane, Tupelo auto dealer Rudy Dossett Jr., talent guru Sam Haskell of Oxford, Renasant Bank chairman Robin McGraw, Oxford businesspeople Ray Poole and Donna Ruth Roberts, Tupelo attorney Sandy Sams, Iuka physician Kelly Segars Sr. and construction magnate Bill Yates.
Phillips’ largest individual contributors, at $5,000 each, are Miami, Fla., attorney Brenton Ver Ploeg, Nesbit nurse practitioner Susan Scott, Hernando attorney Paul R. Scott, Southaven farmer Hal D. Crenshaw, Eutaw Construction’s CEO Thomas S. Elmore of Aberdeen, Batesville businessmen Michael E. Dunlap and R.H. Dunlap, Batesville homemaker Cyd C. Dunlap and Corinth businessman Vick Etheridge.
His war chest also includes a $50,250 loan.
Coleman’s new finance report shows a surge in contributions from doctors and political action committees, including Mississippi Medical PAC, Mississippi Association of General Contractors PAC, Mississippi Federation of Republican Women (MFED), Mississippi Manufacturers Association PAC, Mississippi Health Care PAC, Hattiesburg Clinic Healthcare PAC and Mississippi Bankers Association PAC. Some 40 percent of Coleman’s itemized contributors are individuals, businesses or PACs outside the court district’s 33 counties, compared to Phillips’ 34.8 percent from outside the district.
Among Coleman’s Finance Committee from Northeast Mississippi are Corinth Region’s banker David Dixon, Oxford businessmen Will Lewis and Todd Wade, Big M Transportation owner Michael Massengill of Ripley, former state Rep. Noal Akins of Oxford, Fulton attorney and tree farmer Thomas E. Childs Jr., Corinth insurance consultant Van E. Hedges and Taylor Machines Works Inc. president W.A. “Lex” Taylor III of Louisville, in addition to Jackson-metro area GOP leaders Haley Barbour, Jim Herring and Andy Taggart.
Coleman’s largest individual contributors at $5,000 each are his father Thomas Coleman of Ackerman and 13 PACs.
Mississippi judicial election candidates, except for justice courts, are required to run without party affiliation.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com