With the judicial elections a week from tomorrow, I thought I'd check in with former Minnesota State Bar Association president David Stowman, who chairs the MSBA committee overseeing judicial campaign conduct. Stowman confirmed my sense that things have been relatively quite and the candidates for the most part have steered away from politicizing their races.
"By and large the candidates are conscientious individuals who want to conduct themselves appropriately," he said. "We've received relatively few complaints, and, in some of those cases, [the candidates] agreed to modify their behavior when we talked to them." (Citing his concern that it would be counterproductive to the committee's efforts, Stowman declined to reveal specifics about the complaints that were received.)
Stowman acknowledged that one idea he had -- getting the opposing candidates to meet over a meal -- didn't work out.
"We were not successful in getting them together in the heat of the election process while they are busy campaigning," Stowman said. However, the committee was able to talk with many of the candidates on the phone to discuss how their races are being conducted, he added.
With eight days to go until voting day, Stowman isn't quite ready to give the all-clear signal yet. "I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop," he said with a laugh.
After the election, Stowman plans to solicit input on the role of the MSBA candidates' conduct committee and how it might be refined in future elections.
For more information about the judicial candidates, visit the Minnesota Lawyer's online judicial-election guide.