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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

High court candidates come Facebook-to-Facebook, but not face-to-face

A lot has been written about the use of social-networking sites by lawyers. Now it has even permeated into the arena of judicial elections.

Both Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea (right) and her opponent in the upcoming election, Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund (left), have entries on the Facebook networking site for their campaigns. In fact, Hedlund has two.

One Hedlund Facebook entry-- entitled, "Deborah Hedlund for Supreme Court" -- boasts 12 members, and includes some biographical information and a photo. The second Hedlund Facebook entry, which also has a photo, has a prominent message at the top stating: "Deborah Hedlund is trying to get my opponent to show up for a debate. She has canceled six times now."

Hedlund also has put a series of campaign videos on YouTube.

Meanwhile, 53 supporters have publicly stated that they are backing Gildea on her Facebook page, which includes a "fan photo" of one supporter wearing a Gildea T-shirt while eating something or other on a stick at the State Fair. A couple of statements of support came from folks with the last name Skjerven, including on from a Josh Skjerven, who exclaimed, "im with her." In addition to the standard headshot, the Facebook entry for Gildea's campaign also includes pictures of Gildea being hugged by the University of Minnesota Mascot (Goldy Gopher), riding on a horse in western garb and marching in a parade in Thief River Falls.

While campaigns run in the virtual world are all well and good, I would like to see a real-world debate between Gildea and Hedlund. They have one of the more engaging races, and I think it might generate some public interest in judicial elections.

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