October 2012 Bar Bulletin
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October 2012 Bar Bulletin

Voting and Race:

Off-Color Judicial Elections

By Gabriel S. Galanda


I did a double take when first checking The Seattle Times website for breaking election results the evening of Tuesday, August 7. By 8:30 p.m., in the race for Washington Supreme Court Posi­tion 8, the votes of 87,000 Wash­ington citizens had been counted for Bruce Danielson, who had not campaigned for the position. Even worse, at that moment he was leading incumbent Jus­tice Steven Gonzalez by nearly 16,000 votes.

I then realized that the early returns were mostly from Central and Eastern Washington. I felt mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was relieved that populous King County - where then-Judge Gonzalez spent 10 years on the Superior Court bench - had not yet submitted its results.

But I was completely dismayed that more than 87,000 voters - which when all was said and done became 438,867 voters - chose Danielson, an unqualified candidate for our state's highest court. Tragically, many of those 438,867 citizens chose Danielson over Gonzalez because one of the candidates has a Latino surname. Let me explain.

Sizing up the Candidates

Justice Gonzalez beat Danielson in Kitsap County - Danielson's home county - by a landslide. He should have won in a landslide across the state.

Justice Gonzalez relentlessly campaigned across the state. He was rated "exceptionally well qualified" by eight organizations and was endorsed by the editorial boards of major newspapers throughout the state. Danielson, on the other hand, refused to be rated and did not campaign. He was even rejected by the community that knows him best; in fact, in a Kitsap County bar poll, the lawyers chose Justice Gonzalez by a margin of 90 to 2.

Justice Gonzalez also enjoyed broad bipartisan support, receiving endorsements from both gubernatorial candidates - Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee - and both attorney general candidates - Bob Ferguson and Reagan Dunn; not to mention 300 judges statewide. It is no surprise that Justice Gonzalez raised a record amount of money for a judicial primary.

As for Danielson, his candidacy simply had no support, for lack of effort. Danielson did not participate in a single candidate forum or endorsement interview, nor did he raise a dime for his campaign.

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