Election 2022: Judicial Races

Unless I’ve missed something, there is not a single contested judicial race on either Hennepin County or Ramsey County ballots.

Is this bad? No. It’s fine. Being a judge is mostly a job where you sign off on agreements of various kinds, or listen to a bunch of people who are having probably the worst day of their lives. There are judges who are better than others, but most of the time, incumbent judges only get challenged because (a) somebody who probably should not have the job wants it (like Michelle MacDonald), or (b) they really screwed up in a way you’ll probably find if you search their name (like the judge in Ramsey County who drove drunk in 2018.) Michelle MacDonald is currently disbarred and while there are judges who did stuff that pissed people off, none of them made their peers mad enough that someone’s running against them.

Okay so what do I do with these races? You can check off the incumbents’ names if you want, or some subset of incumbents’ names (someone told me yesterday she was going to vote to re-elect all the judges who weren’t originally nominated by Pawlenty, that’s fine but you’ll have to go create your own list), or you can leave them blank. It does not matter, because it’s rare an incumbent judge loses even if they have an opponent on the ballot, and it’s really unlikely to happen if the opponent is a write-in. Someone would have to be fundraising for a gazillion mailers and billboards and so on. You would probably have heard.

What do you do with these races? If I’m not in a huge hurry, I usually fill in the dots by all the incumbents’ names because I am the sort of person who wants to fill in all the dots.

Can I write someone in? Of course, but FYI, in addition to the fact that they won’t win, they cannot serve if they are over 70 or under 21 and they must be a licensed attorney to serve as a judge. (Although they won’t win, so feel free to write in whoever strikes your fancy. This really does not matter.)

I’m in some other county and I have a contested race. How am I supposed to know who to vote for? My recommendation is that you look at both websites and google the name of the incumbent judge to see what comes up (a drunk driving arrest? a really shoddy job at a high-profile trial? or nothing at all?) If the challenger just links to a law firm site (that’s weirdly common) that suggests to me that they view the filing fee as cheap advertising and are not seriously running. If you find nothing in particular about the incumbent judge, I would vote for the incumbent judge. I will note that lawyers nearly always just vote for the incumbent judge.

ETA: My dad, a Political Scientist who’s written a book on judicial selection, looked up the one contested judicial race in Minnesota:

The one contested trial court race is in the First Judicial District which includes some suburban counties; the counties in the district are Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott and Sibley.  See https://www.inforum.com/news/minnesota/over-100-minnesota-judges-are-up-for-election-only-one-race-is-contested,

The incumbent was appointed in 2021 after about three decades of practicing law. There are no issues that have been identified with the incumbent who is being challenged, except that he did not go to law school in Minnesota (https://www.republicaneagle.com/opinion/letters/letter-rare-opportunity/article_eceab28e-56ec-11ed-94b5-3f1831184083.html). The challenger graduated from William Mitchell (another place says Hamline) and passed the bar in 2018. Other than as a student, he has had little, if any, courtroom experience (his website says that he worked with a small firm doing commercial litigation). He’s had three jobs since graduating from law school and it’s not clear what he’s currently doing (https://hansonforjudgemn.com/issues/).

I would absolutely vote for the First Judicial District incumbent. Judge is not a “four years out of law school” kind of job, that letter also says he’ll be an “originalist” (what would that even mean at the district court level? good grief) and “he didn’t go to law school here” is Minnesota at its most absurd.

So a week or two back, it looked like WordPress had deleted most of my subscribers? But now it’s back to saying I have 10,143 instead of 473. But if you rely on e-mail to notify you I’ve posted, and this is the first post you’ve seen this year, you should know I’ve posted a bunch of other posts! Also, if you’re not a subscriber, plugging in your e-mail in the subscriber box (you may have to do this on desktop rather than phone) will get you an e-mail every time I post. That might not sound appealing, but if it does, now you know.

If you’d like to make a donation to encourage me to keep working on these, I am highlighting a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet who needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got. Or, you can donate to the Movement Voter fundraiser I created; I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and the fundraiser is still active.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)


4 thoughts on “Election 2022: Judicial Races

  1. I could not disagree with you more. Most people pay no attention to races for judges. Many are awful and should not be serving in this capacity but year after year they go unchallenged. To call these people elected officials is ridiculous since most were originally appointed. Then, no one challenges them and they go unchecked making real life decisions that have a huge impact on the lives of individuals ad well as our community as a whole. While it may not be in your scope to dig into the records of most of these people, every single reader should be very, very concerned that every single one of these people is running unopposed.

  2. Since having counted Mickey Mouse in 17 spelling and capitalization variations, I believe you now have to register as a write-in candidate in order to be tallied. The tabulator produces a total of the write-in vote count, but that’s all. Write-in votes can only be counted by hand, and it is generally a painful procedure. Given the usual flaky entries for write-ins, it would take a huge lead to overcome a named candidate. For specifics, please see https://www.sos.state.mn.us/election-administration-campaigns/become-a-candidate/write-in-candidates/

    • ‘Candidates for State and Judicial Office
      ‘A write-in candidate for state or judicial office must file a written request for their votes to be counted. This request must be filed with the filing officer for that office not more than 84 days before the primary (May 17, 2022) and no later than the 7th day before the general election (November 1, 2022).’

    • I’m glad to hear no one has to tabulate them unless there’s a registered write-in candidate because when I write my State Auditor post I’m going to tell people who don’t like Julie Blaha for whatever reason to write in Mickey Mouse or something. (I desperately want to discourage people from voting for the weed party candidates because no one needs the two weed parties to have major-party status fucking AGAIN. I mean, I would prefer that people just vote for Julie Blaha but if they hate her for some reason, a meaningless write-in is the least bad option.)

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