November 7, 2012 11:49:59 AM
JACKSON -- Newcomer Josiah Coleman won a seat on the Supreme Court on Tuesday with a suprisingly easy win over Richard "Flip" Phillips.
Coleman, of Toccopola, beat Richard "Flip" Phillips of Batesville in the northern or 2nd District. Coleman wins an eight-year term beginning in January, with the 39-year-old taking the seat of retiring Justice George C. Carlson Jr.
Strong support from business groups helped push Coleman past Phillips in the district, which covers 33 counties, including DeSoto County, Greenwood, Tupelo and Columbus.
Coleman, who practices law in Oxford, is the son of Thomas Coleman, one of the first judges on the state Court of Appeals. His grandfather, the late J.P. Coleman, was a governor and federal judge.
Coleman attributed his victory to his many supporters. "So many people helped me," he said.
Phillips, 65, touted his 40-year legal career that has included criminal and civil law. He has been a prosecutor and has represented local governments and businesses.
Coleman had raised $252,000 as of Oct. 30, with support from business groups such as BIPEC, Mississippi Manufacturers Association, Mississippi Association of Realtors and Mississippi Medical PAC. Some outside groups also spent on Coleman's behalf.
Phillips had raised $415,000 as of Oct. 30, with support mainly from lawyers.
"Money always matters in politics," Coleman said. "That's why you have to raise it."
In the other two Supreme Court races, incumbents Bill Waller Jr. and Mike Randolph emerged with victories.
A late push put Waller ahead of state Rep. Earle Banks, a Jackson Democrat, by 10 percentage points with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
Waller, chief justice since 2009, won an eight-year term that begins in January 2014 and runs until 2022. He was first elected to the Supreme Court in 1996.
Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Randolph, 65, to serve the unexpired term of former Chief Justice Ed Pittman in April 2004. Randolph was elected to an eight-year term that November.
Previously, Randolph was a lawyer in private practice. His early practice focused on insurance defense.
Although judicial candidates run without party labels, the state Republican Party had endorsed Coleman, Waller and Randolph.