Thursday, April 05, 2007

Judge Not

$7.25 Remember that number and think about what you can buy for that much money these days.

I'm not sure how you feel, but the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court race made me sick. The barage of attack ads both on the radio and television, mailers and computerized phone calls at home from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and others. Come on!

I interviewed both candidates during the primary and leading up to the spring election. During the primary both focused on their records and talked about what they thought the role of a Supreme Court justice should be. They differed on that somewhat.

In the days before the election it was a different matter. I had to ask Washington County Judge Annette Ziegler (pictured) about the accusations made against her by her opponent Madison lawyer Linda Clifford. You know conflict of interest, ethics, etc. Most of it boiled down to cases involving West Bend Savings Bank, a bank whose Board of Directors her husband sits on. She spent about half of the interview talking about that and her record on sentencing sex offenders.

Linda Clifford spent more than half the interview pushing the public records search of Ziegler's cases. She then talked about her own experience, which covers many areas of the law but not criminal law. I mentioned it would have been nice to spend more time talking about Linda Clifford the candidate. She agreed, but the interview had to be kept to a certain time length due to programming constraints.

I spoke to Judge Ziegler again on election night to congratulate her and talk about what's next. She said she hoped to put the campaign negatives behind her and concentrate on more positives like being sworn in this August to take the seat retiring Justice Jon Wilcox is leaving. At 42 years of age she could be on the Supreme Court a long time, like another woman that sits there now. Shirley Abrahamson.

As for the $7.25 According to my shaky math skills there were 828,707 people combined that voted for either Ziegler or Clifford. There was also more than $6 million spent on the campaign, by the candidates and other interests. That comes pretty close to $7.25 spent for each vote. Political experts say it may be the first of many Supreme Court campaigns to come in which we will see more and more money spent by the candidates and political interests.

I talked to a local election official after the Supreme Court race and mentioned it was supposed to be nonpartisan. She said tell that to the talk show hosts who characterized Ziegler as the Republican candidate and Clifford as the Democratic candidate. To me that comment was just..supreme!

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