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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Politics unlikely to be a major part of mix in appellate races

A quick overview of the appellate races shows a field of candidates not overly interested in politicizing judicial races.

Three of the six appellate court challengers running in 2008 have run before without making politics a centerpiece of their campaigns -- Tim Tingelstad and Jill Clark at the Supreme Court level and Dan Griffith at the Court of Appeals level. (Tingelstad did receive the endorsement of the state GOP when he ran for a District Court judgeship in 2004, but did not run any attack ads or make an issue of his opponents' politics. Clark reported she is undecided about whether she would seek or use a party endorsement this year, but did not run a political-based campaign when she ran for a trial court seat six years ago.) The other three -- Supreme Court challengers Alan Lawrence Nelson, Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund and Richard Gallo -- have all said they do not plan to bring politics into their campaigns. Likewise, the incumbents have no interest in waging partisan campaigns.

Thus, it appears on the appellate level anyway, that Minnesota has again escaped a special-interest funded, politicized judicial race like the one recently experienced in Wisconsin. (We are still studying the trial court races and candidates.) In fact, two of the appellate candidates (i.e. Gallo and Nelson) have even said that they plan to do no fundraising at all. That's not to say, however, that the appellate races will all be tame. I predict that the race for Justice Lorie Gildea's seat will be particularly lively.

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