WATCH: NC Supreme Court candidates talk "outside money' - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

WATCH: NC Supreme Court candidates talk "outside money' in campaign

One candidate running for NC Supreme Court says outside groups are "trying to buy a seat on the court" with campaign ads One candidate running for NC Supreme Court says outside groups are "trying to buy a seat on the court" with campaign ads

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Voters in North Carolina will decide who will fill a seat on the state's highest court when cast ballots in the General Election. Justice Paul Newby is running for re-election to the Supreme Court, facing a challenge from Court of Appeals Judge Sam Ervin IV.

The non-partisan race has drawn the attention of outside groups, which will spend hundreds of thousands of backing the candidates with television and radio ads. Reports say the North Carolina Judicial Coalition has spent more than $1 million on ads backing Newby, who took won a seat on the high court in 2004 after Justice Bob Orr retired. A group called North Carolina Citizens for Protecting Our Schools is listed as paying for a mailer and ads favoring Ervin, who joined the Appeals court in 2009 after spending ten years with the NC Utilities Commission.

Ervin's campaign paid for an ad weeks ago, where he criticized groups of trying to "buy a seat" on the NC Supreme Court.  "When you start having high-dollar politicized political races, that runs a risk that public confidence in the independence of the judiciary will be impaired," Judge Ervin said during an interview in the WECT Studios. "I think that is an unmitigated bad thing, and would say that whether the expenditures were being made for me or against me."

"I am a proponent of the first amendment," Justice Newby said during a similar interview at WECT. "If folks are getting more information, or at least they are encouraged to look at our qualifications, that's a good thing. If folks can look at any of the groups that may be involved (in the political ads) and think ‘Oh, what impact will this have on Justice Newby?', I can assure you none!"

Copyright 2012 WECT. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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