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Monday, September 8, 2008

Judicial races not political so far, but not all 'nice' either

Despite concerns about the possibility that politics would infuse themselves into the state's judicial elections, so far its been a pretty quite judicial election season. With the primary slated for tomorrow, none of the four judicial races with a primary has turned overtly political. That's not to say that everything has been Minnesota nice, mind you.

In one of the two Supreme Court races, Minneapolis attorney Jill Clark has filed legal challenges seeking to disqualify her opponent, Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea. The substance of those various complaints has been detailed in prior posts, so I won't bother reiterating them here. (Suffice it to say that a special panel appointed to look into Clark's arguments disposed of them in record time. However, Clark hasn't given up, seeking relief from the federal courts.) I've not heard much from Gildea's other two opponents -- public defender Rick Gallo and Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund. It will be interesting to see if Clark's combative tactic of filing these court actions -- and of getting the resultant media coverage and name recognition -- translates into enough votes to get her through the primary. (Only the top two vote-getters will be on the general election ballot in November.)

The second Supreme Court primary pits Justice Paul Anderson, the second most senior of the high court, against 9th Judicial District referee Tim Tingelstad of Bemidji and attorney/ software engineer Alan Nelson. Tingelstad, who has run before unsuccessfully for a high court and a District Court judgeship, emphasizes his experience as a referee and his "biblical worldview." As for Nelson, if he kept a profile that was any lower, he'd be able to star in an episode of "Lost." He has not provided us or the Star Tribune for that matter with a photo, he has not answered our questionnaire (and did not give much of a response to the Strib) and responds to questions only via e-mail. (He does have a website though).

As for the two District Court judgeships up for grabs in Ramsey and Hennepin, it's anybody's guess who will prevail tomorrow. There are eight candidates in the Ramsey race and six candidates in the Hennepin race. I live in Hennepin County and received a number of direct mail pieces from candidates for that seat. I think there are a number of very good choices for both seats, so I am looking forward to seeing how those races come out.

For information about the candidates involved in tomorrow's judicial primary, check out the Minnesota Lawyer Judicial Elections 2008 website.

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