Nathan Choi runs away from Essex Porter
Nathan Choi runs away from Essex Porter

Two days ago, I pub­lished a lengthy post here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate lament­ing a lack of cov­er­age of state and local judi­cial races, par­tic­u­lar­ly the con­test for State Supreme Court between excep­tion­al­ly well qual­i­fied incum­bent Jus­tice Steve Gon­za­lez and his chal­lenger, admon­ished attor­ney Nathan Choi.

In that post, I explained that in our research poll last May, we asked respon­dents across Wash­ing­ton State about their pref­er­ences in the Supreme Court race, and found 16% for Choi, 10% for Gon­za­lez, and a whop­ping 74% not sure.

Since the pub­li­ca­tion of that post, two jour­nal­ists work­ing in the broad­cast sec­tor have thank­ful­ly stepped up to shine a spot­light on this impor­tant race at a cru­cial junc­ture: Pub­lic radio’s Austin Jenk­ins and KIRO7’s Essex Porter.

Austin was first up, fil­ing a report ear­ly today for North­west Pub­lic Radio that has been car­ried by many of Wash­ing­ton’s mem­ber NPR sta­tions, includ­ing KUOW and KNKX. It is appro­pri­ate­ly titled: ‘Deep state’ or deep sixed? The Wash­ing­ton Supreme Court race that’s get­ting buried.

Six years ago, Steven Gon­za­lez’s last name like­ly cost him votes in his first race for the Wash­ing­ton Supreme Court. He won nonetheless.

Now he’s hop­ing he can keep his seat as he runs for re-elec­tion in an under-the-radar, statewide race against an oppo­nent, Nathan Choi, who has raised no mon­ey, has no bar rat­ings, and has links on his web­site to YouTube videos about the “Deep State.”

Gon­za­lez’s is the only Supreme Court race with a chal­lenger. And even though he’s the incum­bent, Gon­za­lez fears that vot­ers’ lack of famil­iar­i­ty with judi­cial races will be a strike against him.

“I sus­pect that most peo­ple don’t know either of us,” Gon­za­lez said.

The report goes on to cite our polling:

Gon­za­lez may have cause for concern.

A poll last May com­mis­sioned by the lib­er­al North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute sug­gest­ed that near­ly three-quar­ters of vot­ers didn’t know who they would vote for in his con­test­ed Supreme Court race. Among those who did, the major­i­ty appeared to favor Choi.

Choi refused to talk to Austin Jenk­ins for his sto­ry, instead telling Jenk­ins to go to his web­site and check out the videos post­ed there.

This evening, KIRO7’s Essex Porter had a prime­time seg­ment on the Gonzalez/Choi con­test, mak­ing KIRO the first of the state’s tele­vi­sion sta­tions to cov­er the race.

As Essex explained to anchor Steve Raible and KIRO view­ers, he was able to secure what he thought would be an inter­view with Choi. Choi even vol­un­teered to come to KIRO’s stu­dio loca­tion in Seat­tle to be inter­viewed. But when Choi found out that it was­n’t going to be a live inter­view, he tried to run away. On cam­era!

And no, I’m not kid­ding. See for yourself:

Essex — who is eas­i­ly one of the most sea­soned and hard­est-work­ing jour­nal­ists we have — nim­bly raced to keep up with Choi when he attempt­ed to get away, ask­ing the admon­ished attor­ney why he did­n’t want to talk about his can­di­da­cy and chal­leng­ing him as he tried to back out of the inter­view that he agreed to.

That’s the fun­ny part of the seg­ment. The edu­ca­tion­al part of the seg­ment is the inter­view with Gon­za­lez, where the high­ly-regard­ed jus­tice explains who he is and why he real­ly wants vot­ers to make an informed deci­sion in this election.

Watch the whole thing, lis­ten to Austin’s report­ing, and then share these sto­ries with your friends and fam­i­ly who haven’t vot­ed yet. Make sure they know who the can­di­dates are before they vote in this impor­tant statewide race, which is for a six-year term on the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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