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The Minnesota Supreme Court primary may be the most important election nobody’s heard of

Hudson photo by Briana Bierschbach
Left to right: Craig Foss, incumbent Justice Natalie Hudson and Michelle MacDonald

Historically speaking, Minnesota Supreme Court justices running for re-election don’t have a whole lot to worry about: An incumbent hasn’t lost a re-election bid since the 1940s.

But some supporters of incumbent Associate Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Natalie Hudson worry that this year could be different.

On Aug. 9, Hudson faces two challengers in her bid to serve again on the state’s highest court: attorney Craig Foss, who says he’s running because he can’t find a job, and attorney Michelle MacDonald, who ran an unsuccessful bid for the state’s highest court in 2014 that MinnPost’s Doug Grow called “one of the most bizarre campaigns in state history.”

Of the three candidates running for the slot, Hudson is the only one with experience as an elected judge — and the only one actively fundraising for her campaign to retain her seat, according state campaign finance records.

But those efforts may not matter: In this primary, only the top two vote getters’ names will advance to the general ballot. With no other statewide primary on the ballot, voter turnout in general is expected to be low — and in judicial elections, the number of people voting always tends to be lower.

What this means for the Supreme Court race: The random choices of a very small number of voters — or a determined effort by a small group of activists — could have outsized influence on the result, and could even cut Hudson out of the general election.

That presents Hudson with a daunting challenge: How can she get voters to show up to vote for an office that few care about, or even understand what it does?

A unique set of constraints

If you think Hudson should fall back on the well-established set of tricks and techniques used by any politician to get out the vote, you should know that the rules of the game for judicial elections are different.

For one thing, in Minnesota judicial elections are nonpartisan, so judicial candidates can’t rely on voters loyal to a party pushing them over the top. Political parties can endorse judicial candidates, but the only information provided to voters on the ballot, besides candidates’ names, is which one of the candidates (if any) is an incumbent.

Nor can judicial candidates rely on talking to voters about their views on the issues, exactly.

Following 2002’s U.S. Supreme Court decision Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, Minnesota judges have been legally allowed to talk about their views on “disputed legal and political issues.” They may not, however, say how they would rule on an issue if it came before the court, said Marie Failinger, a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

“They can say ‘I hate abortion,’ but they can’t say, ‘If I had an abortion case this is how I would rule,’ ” Failinger said.

But professional ethics in this state still to a degree discourage mixing law and politics. Ideally, Failinger said, the public has confidence in justices’ ability to cast aside political baggage and fairly apply the law.

For candidates who choose not to discuss their political beliefs on the campaign trail, that leaves few topics on which to sell their candidacy: their experience and judicial philosophy, for example — not necessarily the kind of thing that animates voters.

During campaigns, prospective judges also rack up endorsements, often from lawyers. They are also allowed to run print or radio ads, but it’s not the type of race for which you’ll see ads on TV, said Herbert Kritzer, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School — those are expensive.

“The kinds of advertising (run) in most judicial elections are basically promote ads, i.e. ads that are promoting, singing the praises of the candidates,” Kritzer said — often, they’ll depict the candidate as a family person, list supporters or tout their belief in justice.  

Meet the candidates

In her campaign, Hudson has focused on speaking about her work in Minnesota court systems.

Hudson has been practicing law since 1982. She was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals by Gov. Jesse Ventura in 2002. Last year, Gov. Mark Dayton appointed her to fill former Justice Alan Page’s seat on the state’s highest court.

Last week at a League of Women Voters candidate forum in Plymouth, she told about 20 attendees she was the most qualified candidate in the race. Hudson stressed her belief that justices should maintain independence from political parties.

“Party endorsements are the antithesis of what we want in our judicial elections,” she said. “It is vital that judges remain neutral and impartial and that the public has confidence in that neutrality.”

Hudson’s July pre-primary campaign finance report, which covers Jan. 1 to July 18, revealed she had raised $18,937 in campaign contributions.

She told MinnPost she’s not taking any incumbent advantage for granted, especially with low turnout in the primary.

“I don’t know that incumbent now means what it used to mean or has the value that it used to have,” she told MinnPost, citing the fact that MacDonald got 47 percent of votes in the 2014 general election against an incumbent despite a setback in her campaign.

Hudson’s Minnesota State Bar Association questionnaire can be found here.

Challenger Craig Foss is an attorney who worked for Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota from 1998 to 2012. He’s done court-appointed attorney work since he was laid off from that job.

“I’m running because I can’t find a job — because the good lawyers of the Minnesota Bar don’t want to hire a legally blind attorney,” he told League of Women Voters forum attendees last week.

In an interview with MinnPost, Foss described himself as focused on individual rights and property rights, and spoke of reforming the legal system to make it easier for defendants to represent themselves. He has not sought the endorsement of any political party, and has not formed campaign committee to raise cash for his bid.

His Minnesota State Bar Association candidate questionnaire can be found here.

MacDonald has been on the ballot before. In 2014, she ran a campaign against incumbent David Lillehaug for his seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court, but ultimately lost with 47 percent of the vote.

That year, MacDonald was endorsed by the state Republican Party at its convention, but she lost the party’s support following a Star Tribune story about her arrest on suspicion of drunken driving and resisting arrest in 2013. On the night of her arrest, MacDonald said she hadn’t been drinking and refused a field sobriety test until she was in the presence of a judge.

MacDonald was convicted of refusing a breath test and refusing arrest, a conviction that was upheld in the Minnesota Court of Appeals in February, according to the Star Tribune. She was not found guilty of driving under the influence.

This year, MacDonald was recommended for endorsement by a committee at the GOP convention in May, but “blistering dissent from two members of that committee said MacDonald was unworthy of a spot on the Supreme Court,” the Pioneer Press reported. The party ultimately did not endorse a candidate.

MacDonald has been an attorney since 1986, according to her State Bar candidate questionnaire. Her practice has focused on family law, and she previously represented Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, a Lakeville mom who was found guilty of of six felonies for hiding her two daughters from their father for two years.

MacDonald characterized herself as a reformer with conservative values. She does not believe judges should be silent on the subject of their political beliefs. “I believe judges should be open and honest about their party affiliation, because while nonpartisan, most judges have an affiliation,” she said at the forum.

“I’m not anti-establishment but I’m more individualized in my thinking,” MacDonald told MinnPost last week. “I think each case has its own DNA and I think we uphold the Constitution.”

MacDonald did not file a pre-primary campaign finance report, for which the deadline was July 25. As of her last filed report in June, she had not raised  money this cycle and had about $1,200 in outstanding campaign expenses.

Why the election matters

It’s tough to get voters to care about judicial elections — especially for an August primary, when many of them either mentally or physically far from the ballot box (though they can vote early or absentee with no excuse). Many of the people paying close attention are lawyers.

For starters, with so many layers of courts in the United States (three in Minnesota and three in the federal system), just what the Minnesota Supreme Court does is lost on many voters.

A quick primer: The Minnesota Supreme Court’s seven justices make up the state’s court of last resort, handling appeals from Minnesota’s lower courts and big-picture legal questions, such as statutory issues and questions dealing with the Minnesota Constitution. It also helps administer lower Minnesota courts.

Justices are elected to six-year terms and are required to retire when they turn 70. If they vacate their seat midterm — which happens most of the time, often because of the age limit — the governor may appoint a replacement. That replacement must face election to keep the seat.

While the Minnesota Supreme Court’s rulings can affect all Minnesotans, most Minnesotans never come into direct contact with it: You might remember it from the state Senate recount in 2008 and the gubernatorial recount in 2010 — the Minnesota Supreme Court made rulings in those processes.

Incumbent advantage

In past primaries for Minnesota Supreme Court seats, incumbents haven’t had too much difficulty dispatching challengers.

In 2012, incumbents Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea and Associate Justice David Stras both faced multiple challengers. The incumbents won — Gildea with 50 percent and Stras with 49 percent. Their respective challengers — two each— racked up between 20 and 29 percent of votes.

But this year could be different, without any other statewide races on the ballot to drive turnout.

Former Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Paul Anderson doesn’t count on voters reading up on Supreme Court candidates if and when they head to the polls.

“The voters that are going to be turning out will be inordinately related to contested Senate and House of Representative races,” Anderson, who is supporting Hudson, told MinnPost.

Anderson himself faced primary challengers in 2008; he said he campaigned by speaking to civic groups. He ran a few print and radio ads before the general election.

On the one hand, he said that as the incumbent, he felt confident that he’d built a good reputation as a judge in his nearly two decades on the court.

But on the other hand, “What’s worrisome about the primary is who shows up to vote because there’s such a low turnout,” he said. “This is the thing that causes angst and worry — you’re just not sure, (though) you think it’s going to be all right,” he said.

The League of Women voters forum is available to watch here.

Comments (31)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/02/2016 - 12:31 pm.


    My wife and I got our ballets in yesterday, so Ms. Hudson can count on two in the yes column.

    If you’re wondering how so many religious zealots make into Congress, this is how. Only a few people show up for the primaries and they get to pick the slate of candidates for the rest of us. If you don’t want another Michelle Bachman in office, then get out to the polls on Tuesday.

    Your country depends on you!

  2. Submitted by Don Evanson on 08/02/2016 - 02:59 pm.

    Confidence in the judiciary?

    Thank you, Greta Kaul, for your apparent attempt to present a fairly-balanced article, despite that its thrust seems to be to get people out to vote for Natalie Hudson.

    From the article, “Ideally, Failinger said, the public has confidence in justices’ ability to cast aside political baggage and fairly apply the law.” Yes, “ideally”, but I am not sure that in reality the public has such great confidence in the judiciary. Its protectionist efforts to oppose the judicial elections provided for in both of the two partisan-derived Minnesota Constitutions in 1856, later adopted jointly, and its refusal to promote elimination of the discriminatory “incumbent” judicial label on the ballot drive a lack of confidence.

    Robust judicial elections allow the electorate to gain some insight into the temperament of candidates. Yes, in robust campaigns, it is unlikely that judicial candidates can mask their partisan leanings. It seems to me that it is judicial hubris to claim that partisan leanings don’t play into the opinions written by judges.

    The judiciary has been “gaming” the system, with judges retiring before their terms are up, or before being forced into likely unconstitutional mandatory retirement. With the “gaming” the governor gets to make an appointment, and then the appointee is allowed the discriminatory “incumbent” label when she or he has to stand for election for another term.

    Yes, it is true that Natalie Hudson has won elections, but only after an appointment, and likely because of the benefit of the discriminatory label.

    You don’t report that Michelle MacDonald has served as an appointed judge, at the Conciliation Court level. You don’t report on Michelle MacDonald’s Family Innocence Project, an effort that has earned her apparently widespread bipartisan support, likely contributory to the nearly 47% of the vote that she earned in the face of a DFL supported candidate, one with a history of being a partisan “hack”, who twice failed at state-wide elections, who twice was appointed, and lastly won election after appointment by less than 4% of the vote despite the discriminatory benefit of the “incumbent” label. His race was a prime example why judicial elections are relevant and important.

    The judiciary can improve its confidence level with the electorate by getting behind non-partisan judicial reforms: greater legislative oversight of the judiciary, elimination of the discriminatory “incumbent” label, appointees being only “temporary”, not being allowed on the next ballot for the seat, and acceptance of judicial elections as constitutionally provided.

    All of the above are non-partisan reasons to avoid voting for Natalie Hudson, with her stated preference against judicial elections.

    On the other hand, Michelle MacDonald appears to respect the electorate on these issues.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/02/2016 - 03:59 pm.

      Other Things Not Reported

      Michelle MacDonald was named a person of interest in the Rucki parental kidnapping case. Her campaign manager, Dede Evavold, was charged with two felonies in connection with that case.

      Let’s not forget Ms. MacDonald’s Bible-waving acceptance speech in 2014, during which she basically said she would decide cases based on Biblical principles.

      Respect for the electorate, indeed.

    • Submitted by Brent Stahl on 08/02/2016 - 04:51 pm.

      Judicial Confidence and Natalie Hudson

      Your proposals for improving the “confidence level” of the court really just amount to politicizing the judiciary in an explicit way. That would create a host of problems rather than improve anything. Putting the judicial branch under legislative oversight certainly would not improve public confidence. You would do better to worry about public confidence in the legislature.

      Natalie Hudson has a distinguished record on many levels. A friend who is a very smart attorney–and doesn’t suffer fools–worked for Judge Hudson in the appellate court and has nothing but good things to say about her. That opinion appears to be widely shared in the legal community. The other two candidates lack anything like Judge Hudson’s qualifications. Michelle MacDonald turned out to be a major, self-inflicted embarrassment to the Republican Party in the last election, and she has no business being on the State Supreme Court.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/03/2016 - 07:44 am.

        Narrow Escape

        The MN GOP may have embarrassed itself by nominating McDonald last go-round, but it nearly embarrassed the entire state. She got 47%(!) in the general election. Correct me if I’m wrong (I’m use to it, I’ve got kids), but I think that was the highest percentage of anyone running state wide with GOP endorsement.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/03/2016 - 10:50 pm.

      Why yes

      A scofflaw who 1. May be an accessory to a felony kidnapping 2.Is a drunk driver ( why yes I’ll take that refusal charge over a quantifiable test result) and 3. A religious zealot with utter disdain for the concept of a secular government, free of religious influence is the PERFECT example of respect for the electorate. She’s a big a disgrace as Trump, but then again, such has never slowed the machinations of power hungry conservatives before, so why start now?

  3. Submitted by Don Evanson on 08/02/2016 - 03:07 pm.


    The partisan Constitutional Conventions that I alluded to were in 1857, not 1856. I’ll get that straight in my head yet one day, I hope.

  4. Submitted by Chris Johnson on 08/02/2016 - 03:10 pm.

    When is the primary?

    An entire article about how important it is to vote in the Minnesota state primary, and not one damn word about when it is, the rules surrounding it, who can vote, where to vote, etc. MinnPost should be completely ashamed. Even a high school newspaper would do better.

  5. Submitted by Craig Foster on 08/03/2016 - 07:10 am.

    Where do we vote?

    I’m not absolutely clear on where we vote on the primary after reading the article either. Thanks to Pat Terry I see that it’s Tuesday the 9th but I’m having trouble finding where we vote. I assume it’s our normal polling place?

  6. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/03/2016 - 12:28 pm.

    My question

    Why even have a primary in a “nonpartisan election” in the first place? Why not allow anyone who ants to run for a judicial office and is otherwise qualified to be listed on the ballot in November?

    I agree with Mr. Evanson about allwoing judges to run as “incumbents”and I agree mostly with his other comments about the judiciary’s “protectionist”(which is really proprietary) attitude toward judicial offices, which in Minnesota are elected in name only. This applies not only to the Supreme Court but to the district courts and the court of appeals. Why hasn’t Minnesota adopted a court of appeals system like Wisconsin’s where court of appeals judges serve,and must run for election for, in one of four districts, rather than statewide?

    Why are there only two single county judicial districts in Minnesota- 2nd (Ramsey) and 4th (Hennepin)? The Tenth Judicial District,in which I live, consists of 8 counties, including Wright west of Minneapolis, and Washington, east of St. Paul, and running north to Pine County. Anyone running against an appointed incumbent, who is after all only serving in one of the counties, must mount a campaign covering 8 counties covering a very large territory. The 9th JD covers 17 counties. These Judicial Districts incidentally were established in the 1950’s and haven’t been changed since. Why doesn’t democracy-“one person-one vote” also apply to judicial elections?

    Mr. Evenson is also right to point out the “gaming” of the judicial appointment system which Justice Wright has benefited from. But there are unwritten rules to these games. For example, you can’t do what Judge Tom Armstrong did a few years ago by waiting to announce his retirement until the day before his retirement allowing only one person, his law clerk, to file nomination papers in time.

    I appreciate retired Justice Anderson’s concerns about a low turnout and possible upset of the “incumbent” here. But if such an upset happens, as someday it likely will, I say it will be because of a public unhappy with the antidemocratic walls designed to keep qualified candidates from contesting the monopoly held by politically well connected incumbents.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 08/03/2016 - 01:07 pm.


      More politics in judicial elections is a recipe for disaster. Wisconsin (which you cite) is a perfect example of politics undermining the judiciary.

      We have a very good judiciary in Minnesota. There have not been qualified candidates being kept out. Rather, there have been (in this lawyer’s opinion, at least) unqualified and unfit candidates like McDonald being kept out. It’s a solution in search of a problem.

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/03/2016 - 04:26 pm.

        Politics undermining judiciary

        How would anyone know qualified candidates have been kept out of judicial races if the obstacles I’ve mentioned are working? Wisconsin’s system I would say is more democratic than Minnesota’s in that circuit court judges only need to run on a county wide basis not a geographically dispersed district wide basis. Wisconsin has a pool of very highly qualified and competent circuit judges who, if they haven’t faced challenges, face a greater risk of challenge than most Minnesota district judges, who are protected by artificial geographical boundaries.

        While I’m appalled by and disagree with the blatantly political decisions of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, I’m not sure I agree that “politics have undermined the judiciary” there. Or at least more than it has in Minnesota. Maybe you mean the terrible decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court last August terminating the investigation of the Walker campaign’s coordination of “independent expenditures” with donors who also contributed heavily to the recent elections of the members of the Court who decided the case? Do you mean that would never happen in Minnesota?

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 08/03/2016 - 05:37 pm.


          I don’t think it would happen here. The “democratic” elections in Wisconsin have made those races highly partisan, and have resulted in poorly-qualified, inexperienced and ethically-challenged judges and justices. We simply don’t have that here – Dayton, Pawlenty, Ventura and Carlson appointed quality lawyers regardless of political leanings. And the electoral challengers tend to be people like McDonald who have no business being anywhere near the Supreme Court. I don’t want to wreck the good thing we have here.

          • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/04/2016 - 09:44 am.

            “Quality lawyers”

            I will agree the system works pretty well for much of the legal profession in Minnesota. Anyone who doesn’t agree that it works well, any challenger, is by definition to be kept as far from the Supreme Court, if not any judicial position, as possible. Such a person will never be considered for any political appointment to the bench. To get along, you go along seems to be order of the day here.

            The judiciary in the US, including in Minnesota, tends to conservative and conformist. Decisions of the Minnesota courts reflect a conservative political bias in favor of the State, big business, and insurance companies. The legal representatives of these institutions are the “quality lawyers” who become the only candidates for the Minnesota judiciary, made possible because of their political connections. They are overly represented in the Minnesota courts, especially the appellate courts. Natalie Hudson is a case in point.

            It strikes me as a pretty broad overstatement to indict the entire Wisconsin judiciary as being “poorly-qualified, inexperienced and ethically challenged.” It also seems overbroad to assume that Minnesota doesn’t have its fair share of “poorly qualified, inexperienced and ethically challenged” judges and justices. Again, how would anyone know? It seems to me that the system is pretty well designed to protect anyone from being “outed” as such once they’ve become a member of the self-protecting judiciary.

            • Submitted by Pat Terry on 08/04/2016 - 11:03 am.


              I will agree that it is unfair for me to condemn the entire Wisconsin judiciary. I have appeared before good judges there. The politics have really just infected the top tiers.

              I’m not sure why you think the Minnesota judiciary is conservative. The last real controversial political work by the Supreme Court was the Franken recount, where the then-mostly Republicsn-appointed court rose above politics. That would not have happened in Wisconsin. Dayton’s latest Supreme Court pick is of Native American background and has spent her career working in child protection.

              When you say the judiciary works well for the legal profession, you are telling me that the people who understand it best think it works. That’s kind of the end of the discussion for me. Call me a snob or whatever, but I can’t get too excited about people who don’t understand the law telling me how it should work. I would rather see Minnesota do away with judicial elections and just have retention elections.

              I recognize that connections are important for judicial appointments, but there is nothing stopping quality lawyers from running anyway. Instead, the challengers are the nuts. And when there is a bad judge, a good challenger will run and win.


              • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/04/2016 - 03:31 pm.

                Political questions

                Why do I think the Minnesota judiciary is conservative? My comment was that the U.S. judiciary is conservative. The judiciary’s rules and policies run mostly in favor of big business, the State, vested interests, like insurance companies and banks. Just because Minnesota’s judiciary, or other state or federal judiciary, doesn’t enter “politics” as we usually define it, as the U.S. Supreme Court did in Bush v. Gore, doesn’t mean it is not making”political decisions.” I realize that “political questions” are off limits from the judiciary. Of course, what a “political question” is can only be answered by the judiciary and when it is, it’s not a “political question” any more by definition. It’s a “justiciable controversy.” But what gets defined as a “justiciable controversy” is highly political and generally conservative.

                There was a time when the legal profession actually favored making the “law” accessible and comprehensible to the average citizen. Most people who would once have been called middle class cannot afford to go to lawyers. You’re right: they don’t understand the law. If they don’t, it’s not because because the legal profession has done its job in educating the public about the law.

                I’m glad you linked to the article about the Clark-Blakely judicial election. That’s great. But that doesn’t mean “there’s nothing stopping quality lawyers from running”. Yes there is. Clark won because 1) he was a prosecutor; and 2) I’m sure he had to raise a large fund to mount a multi-county campaign. Back to my original point: it shouldn’t have to be that hard. Clark should not have had to run for election in a county where Blakely is not really a sitting judge.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/04/2016 - 12:09 pm.


      Wasn’t the judiciary always intended as a less-democratic check on the excesses of the other two branches of government? If the goal really is a court system in which the judges just “call the balls and strikes,” don’t we want them insulated as much as possible from popular opinion?

      You haven’t given any persuasive arguments for single-county judicial districts. The convenience of those who wish to run for judicial office is way down my list of policy considerations. If public service is that important to you, suck it up and put a few miles on the car.

      A more important concern should be the efficient use of limited resources. In a lot of rural counties, it does not make sense to have a full time judge chambered there. The workload just would not justify having a judge and judicial support staff. In the Ninth District, where I launched my career in the early 80s, there were a lot of counties where a full-time judge would have spent a lot of time doing nothing. The idea that we should make it easy to campaign for an office where the incumbent does nothing strikes me as backwards.

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/04/2016 - 10:30 pm.

        Rural counties and full time judges

        If Minnesota or other states had wanted an unelected, undemocratic judiciary, they could have simply adopted the federal system of tenured federal judges with lifetime appointments. But they didn’t. The Minnesota Constitution has always provided for an elected judiciary. My understanding was that the purpose of an elected judiciary was to make it subject to popular opinion, and less subject to the influence of the powerful railroad and lumber corporate interests. Obviously, we’ve seen that judicial positions can be bought and influenced as well. But more democracy is a better rule than less over the long term.

        It’s my understanding that until a few years ago, Minnesota also had county judges which had jurisdiction over matters like probate and small claims, and maybe some criminal matters. That was abolished since I’ve lived here in favor of district judges which at least where I’ve practiced, mostly act like they are county judges, except when it comes to being elected.

        Getting elected in an eight county judicial district involves a lot more than putting a few miles on the car. It requires mounting a political campaign comparable to running for the legislature. About ten years ago, I heard that the cost of a legislative campaign was about $35,000.00. Single county judicial campaigns could make that cost a lot less, making campaign costs less of an obstacle to challenge an incumbent.

        Having single county judges elected on a county wide basis is a separate issue from having judges without enough to do. That’s an administrative problem. If an elected judge in a single county doesn’t have enough of a case load to justify his or her pay there, then they can be reassigned to fill in elsewhere when and where they are needed. Just as it’s done now.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/05/2016 - 04:47 pm.

          “But more democracy is a better rule than less”

          Up to a point, but it is still a judge’s job to make unpopular decisions, even if it costs her re-election. It comes with the territory.

          “Getting elected in an eight county judicial district involves a lot more than putting a few miles on the car.” If you want the job badly enough, you should be willing to make that sacrifice. The convenience of campaigners does not resonate very strongly with me, I’m afraid.

          “Single county judicial campaigns could make that cost a lot less, making campaign costs less of an obstacle to challenge an incumbent.” The overall costs of judicial campaigns will go up. The challenger would have to spend less money than under the current system, but the incumbent would likewise have to raise enough to defend against the challenger. This would replicate itself in each of the 87 counties in the state. More challenges, more campaigning, more fund-raising, more judges beholden to campaign contributors.”Having single county judges elected on a county wide basis is a separate issue from having judges without enough to do.” Well, partly. It also tells me that having a full-time judge in each county would be a waste of time and money, even if we occasionally have them fill in elsewhere (what’s the point of electing a judge in, say, Kittson County if she is going to be spending most of her time doing overflow work somewhere else?).

  7. Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 08/04/2016 - 07:18 am.

    Back of ballot

    The judicial race is also on the backside of the ballot, making it more likely to be missed by inattentive voters (despite the good efforts of election judges to remind people to vote both sides of the ballot as they are handed out).

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/08/2016 - 12:21 pm.


      I’ll certainly remind my judges tomorrow to advise voters there’s a second side of the ballot. At the end of the day though, there’s only so much we can do to guide people in the right direction. If they choose not to vote on any particular race, there’s nothing we can do to force them along.

      As it is I’m sure we’ll have a lot of spoiled ballots as people try to vote in both partisan columns. Last election we had someone who spoiled two ballots before they finally got it right and voted in one column or the other. “Oh, that’s right–you did mention that” was their response.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 08/08/2016 - 12:54 pm.

        Voting machines

        At least the voting machines will spit out a ballot spoiled by votes in both columns.

        A ballot unmarked on its backside will go through just fine, whether that’s what the voter intended or not.

  8. Submitted by Alexander Wittenberg on 08/04/2016 - 11:43 pm.

    Hudson Projected a Landslide Victory

    The Minnesota State Bar Association polled its members and Hudson received 93.77 percent of the vote:

  9. Submitted by Steven James Beto on 08/07/2016 - 08:59 am.

    Foss on a Horse?

    Did Craig Foss submit the picture of him on a horse to be used in this report? If MinnPost chose the photograph they would have done so knowing it would prejudice his campaign. Fess up, MinnPost. Did you do this?

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