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.