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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Justice Gildea saddles up for a real horse race

Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Lorie Gildea is in one of the more interesting horse races of this judicial-election season. Luckily for her, Gildea -- shown here in period costume for the Sesquicentennial -- is something of an equestrian, so that may gave her an advantage in taking the reins and dispelling the naysayers. OK, OK, I can hear your groans, but we had the photo, so I couldn't resist.

In all seriousness, Gildea is involved in one of the most interesting races -- with a field of opponents composed of a sitting District Court judge (Deborah Hedlund), a longtime public defender (Rick Gallo) and Jill Clark, a Minneapolis attorney with a reputation for being "combative" and "feisty" (the Strib's words, not mine). Some may recall in 2002, when Clark challenged Judge Thomas Wexler, the race got a little testy at points. I wouldn't expect Hedlund to be any shrinking violet either. In fact, Hedlund has already seemed to adopt a campaign theme that could potentially cause some friction -- her nearly three decades of trial court bench experience compared to the 2 1/2 months Gildea served in the Hennepin County District Court before being elevated to the high court. (You can, of course, argue the point of whether or not that trial court experience is superior to spending that time engaged in the practice of law, and, no doubt, Gildea will.) The third candidate, Gallo, has the advantage of having spent more than two decades as a public defender, currently working in (appropriately enough) the appellate division. However, he has said he does not plan to raise any funds for his campaign, so I imagine it will be pretty tough for him to get the word out. I would look for him to call attention to the crisis in the public-defense system created by the most recent round of state budget cuts.

Minneapolis attorney Susan Holden, Gildea's campaign chair, has said the campaign anticipates raising between $100,000 and $200,000, which would be similar to the amounts raised in the past by former Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz and former Justice James Gilbert when they successfully fended off challenges. Holden also said Gildea's campaign is prepared to raise more "if necessary." (Click here to see the full Minnesota Lawyer article on the judicial races.) While a low six-figure campaign may sound like a lot to some, it's actually not much to spend for a statewide campaign, particularly when one looks at the millions spent on the politicized judicial races experienced in some states. In one recent Wisconsin high court alone, more than $3.6 million was expended. Now that's a lot of hay!


Anonymous said...

"Jill Clark, a Minneapolis attorney with a reputation for being "combative" and "fiesty" (the Strib's words, not mine)."

Ms. Clark is "fiesty"? Does this mean she has a healthy appetite?

Mark Cohen, editor said...

Thanks for pointing that out. That should be feisty, of course (and I made the correction). That said, I have no doubt this will be a meaty campaign to cover and will give us all food for thought. As you can tell, I am blogging at lunchtime and will soon be off to get my just desserts.

Anonymous said...

Lorie Gildea's seat was bought and paid for by the Republican National Committee, courtesy of her husband, Andy Gildea, their Minnesota "bagman." She is a political appointee to the core. I will vote for whomever her opponent is in November.