We told you the race for Justice Lorie Gildea's seat would be particularly interesting to watch this election season, and so far it hasn't been disappointing.
Jill Clark (on left), one of three candidates challenging Gildea (on right) for the seat, has filed an action with the Minnesota Supreme Court seeking to disqualify Gildea and have the justice's name removed from the ballot. The crux of the argument is that Gov. Tim Pawlenty originally appointed Gildea as a seat holder under the constitutional provision allowing governors to fill judicial vacancies until a "successor" is elected. Clark argues that Gildea cannot be her own "successor," and therefore is ineligible run for her own seat.
It's a novel argument unlikely to wash given that it flies in the face of the longstanding procedures under which most of the members of the state's judiciary initially got and retained their seats. (The vast majority of judges in Minnesota, like Gildea, were originally appointed by the governor and then stood for election to retain their seats.)
Clark also seeks to strike the statutorily authorized language from the primary ballot identifying Gildea as an incumbent. Challengers historically have not liked the incumbency designation because of their feeling that voters, often acting with little actual other knowledge of the candidates, tend to favor the incumbent in judicial elections. However, no prior challenge to this designation has ever been successful.
I think there is little probability Clark will prevail with either of these requests. More significant is what they demonstrate about Clark the candidate; the Minneapolis lawyer will apparently pursue her judicial campaign with the same aggressiveness for which she has become known in her litigation practice. It's highly unusual for a candidate in a judicial campaign in Minnesota to make such a public lunge for her opponent's jugular, particularly when her opponent is a sitting Supreme Court justice.
The other candidates running against Gildea are public defender Rick Gallo and Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund. The field will be weeded down to two in the September primary.