Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Governor Gregoire considers supporting public financing for judicial races

Last week, the Associated Press reported an interesting primary postmortem development that caught our attention. I was going to comment on it several days ago, but this is election season, and items of interest can easily slip under the radar.

It seems that Governor Christine Gregoire is just as worried about the huge explosion of special interest independent expenditures in judicial races as we at NPI are. Following a Public Disclosure Commission report which outlined the enormous sums that were spent attacking or defending the candidates (especially the incumbents) the Governor made it known that she's looking for solutions:
"Candidly, I'm very concerned about the amount of money that is going into judicial races," Gregoire said. "Is there a different and better way? ... I don't think this is healthy for the citizenry or healthy at all for the court.

"I'd like to hold our court in the highest regard" but having the appearance of groups trying to "buy a seat" undermines public confidence in the judiciary, said the former three-term attorney general.

"Money shouldn't buy anything over there (at the Temple of Justice), so we're looking at ways in which we can help," she said.

Gregoire said she hasn't settled on a particular solution, and welcomed the Public Disclosure Commission's involvement and urged the Legislature to look at possible reforms, too. She said she's intrigued with public financing and talked last week with Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano about the Arizona system. North Carolina also has public financing of court races.
We'd actually like to move to a system where judges are appointed by the governor and then subject to regular retention elections, but as Gregoire observed, that idea doesn't seem to have much popular support. So kudos to her for exploring other possible solutions that could address this problem.

More information about public election financing is available here.

The Governor also made clear last Monday that she opposes both of the right wing initiatives on the ballot this year, and endorsed Justice Susan Owens and Senator Maria Cantwell for reelection.

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