The Michigan Association for Justice’s number-one goal going into the 2020 Election was to remove the anti-civil justice majority on the Michigan Supreme Court that for nearly a generation had been responsible for some of the most conservative and regressive case law in the country.
In a truly historic outcome in what turned out to be the highest turnout election in Michigan h i s t o r y with over 5.5 million voters -- despite an uncontrolled pandemic -- wins by Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and MAJ Member Elizabeth Welch cemented a 4-3 civil justice majority on the court. Out of seven candidates on the ballot for Michigan Supreme Court where voters could choose two, Chief Justice McCormack won reelection with 2.3 million votes. Justice-Elect Welch finished second with 1.4 million votes. Republican-nominated candidates Mary Kelly and Brock Swartzle finished third and fourth with 1.2 million and 1.0 million votes, respectively.
The MAJ Executive Committee, MAJ PAC Board chaired by Barry Fagan, and staff started developing the strategy and laying the groundwork back in January to flip the court. Along with being outstanding and well-qualified candidates, McCormack and Welch were backed by MAJ’s Full Court Press (aptly named by MAJ Vice President Stu Sklar), a comprehensive and multifaceted endeavor to receive assistance from key allies, build name recognition, deliver the candidates’ messaging, and encourage voters to fill out the nonpartisan section of their ballots.
Collectively, MAJ members raised and contributed more than $1.9 million to Justice PAC. That money leveraged an $8-million independent expenditure campaign with labor and progressive groups focusing on the early voting period six weeks prior to the election. It included tv, radio, digital media, and mail. MAJ members dug deep and provided the time, energy, and financial resources to execute the campaign and achieve one of the biggest election wins in the association’s 75 years.