Friday, July 29, 2016

The Political Desk: Judges - Supreme and Superior

The Washington State has had some very noisy judges of late. Usually expected to defend the status quo, the current bench has made some waves by actually enforcing the state constitution, pointing out the legislature's criminal behavior in not funding K-12 education and shooting down charter schools as unconstitutional (though the legislature put a patch for that in place which might work, but has to run through the courts again). Such activities do not go unpunished, so each Supreme Court justice up for re-election has at least one challenger.

And there is an interesting article in the Seattle Times about all this. It mentions that these challengers have be rounded up to challenge the incumbents by a conservative-led coalition, but declines to mention who leads that coalition. The article also talks about one candidate has appeared to testify before the legislature at the request of a Republican State Senator, but declines to mention it. Apparently, if you are conservative or Republican, apparently, you are in the Witness Protection Program, as far as the Times is concerned.

And this particular vote is less worrisome than most, in that we've changed how Judge elections work. Previously, a candidate getting more than 50% of the vote in the primary was just re-elected, meaning that low-attendance primaries had more pull than the general. That's gone. So this is a rough draft for most positions, and might explain why Voting For Judges, which I normally rely on for information, is quiet on the challengers at the moment.

For Justice Position No. 5 is Barbara Madsen as the incumbent, and gets good marks down the line. Her secretly-recruited opponent is Greg Zempel, who wants the Supreme Court to be less political. Plus, he adds diversity, since there is only one other member of the court from Eastern Washington. Also in the running is a disbarred lawyer named (Zamboni) John Scanneli (no, that's how it is listed on the ballot) who is not a fan of the Washington State Bar Association at all.

There's a similar situation at Position 1 for incumbent Mary Yu, who gets Exceptional marks down the line, and is facing off against David Dewolf, who is as yet unrated, is from the Eastern Side of the state, and thinks the court is too darn political. But that vote won't be until November.

Ditto Charlie Wiggins at Position 6, incumbent, against Dave Larson, who is NOT from the Eastern side of the state, but yes, feels the court has gone astray by being too political.

Seriously. These folk are running on a platform that, if elected, they should do less at the job than the people currently doing them. Me? I'm going with the Barbara Madsen and the incumbents this time out. It is the legislature that needs to get in line.

Meanwhile, at the Superior Court level, we have one election with more than two candidates. Position #44 has Cathy Moore, Eric Newman, and Jackson Schmidt. All three are qualified according to VFW, with Ms. Moore and Mr. Newman slightly ahead of Mr. Schmidt. All three have strong endorsements, again with Mr. Schmidt only slightly behind. The Stranger likes Ms. Moore. The Times likes Mr. Newman. Mr Schmidt is the one with yard signs and mailers (so far). I'm going with Eric Newman on this one, but I can be easily argued out of it, and this is the weakest of my recommendations this year.

One last thing. Between the rough draft of this entry and the final, THIS article showed up, saying that Ms. Madsen's opponent is getting his heavy-funding from a charter school group (and most of THEIR funding comes from one person, the wife of a former Microsoft CEO). So the mysterious recruiters may not be so mysterious after all.

More later,