Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Election results - Pennsylvania judicial retention votes

The following article summarizes what is at stake in the PA judicial retention races:
Never has a Supreme Court judge not been retained. Let's start with that - most voters don't know Supreme Court judges or what exactly they do. But the two candidates Tuesday might be in the wrong place at the wrong time - namely on the ballot when voters are still steamed over the July 7th pay raise.

The two candidates are Democrat Russell Nigro and Republican Sandra Schultz Newman, both from the Philadelphia area. Both are seeking 10 year terms. It's a simple yes or no vote but since the pay raise, nothing is simple. They are the first statewide candidates to run since the pay raise. A number of grass roots organizations have campaigned across the state calling for a no vote. The governor and several major newspapers have argued it's unfair to take out frustration on these supreme court judges..critics say the judges are too cozy with the legislature. Gene Stilp/activist, "I always like to say follow the money. July 7th legislators voted the money. July 8th the judges started taking the money. So follow the money right from the legislature to the judges pocket." Eric Epstein/rockthecapitol.org, "We've investigated the record of both Newman and Nigro and found that 50 percent of the time they side with the legislature. That's too high. We need new blood, need new justices."

The local source of this article usually oversimplifies the issues (and there is greater justification for laying this pay raise at the feet of the Pennsylvania courts than the media outlet reveals), but that is not as important as the voter rebellion that has taken place over the legislative pay raise. That rebellion has been kept alive by talk radio and the internet.

The state legislature is on the verge of repealing the pay raise, but the judicial candidates are sweating anyway. Preliminary results appear to be close. Further details to follow.


At 10:40 PM, ABC 27 is calling the statewide judicial retention race "too close to call."

At this point, even if the judges win retention, the message will be clear. Never again will the state legislature be so cavalier about a pay raise.


Michelle Malkin posts more on races around the country.

At 10:45, it appeared that the "NO" votes exceeded the "Yes" votes for the Democrat Supreme Court justice. The Republican appears to be doing better.


It appears that the opponents of "intelligent design" have defeated all or most of the incumbent Dover School Board members. As you may recall, Dover is the school district at the center of the lawsuit over intelligent design. The effect on the lawsuit from this election result is unclear.


Re: Dover School District - One would think that the election of anti-intelligent design school board members would end the controversy in this district. But both sides in the election promised to follow the judge's ruling, whatever it might be. That promise is meaningless for the ID opponents, who could lawfully order the end to ID teaching even if the ID side wins the suit. The lawsuit retains its importance as a precedent for other districts. And because it was ID opponents that filed suit in the first place, it is unlikely that the new Board would reverse the policy without getting a ruling from the judge. The ruling is what they really want - not merely to reverse the ID policy in one district.

If this reasoning is hard to follow, wait a few months and see what happens.

re: Statewide judicial retention - the results are little different now than one hour ago, with heavily Republican areas still unreported. The prevailing opinion is that the races are much closer than they would have been had the pay raise issue not existed. The Democrat candidate - Nigro - is behind by 4,000 votes with 85% of the returns counted.

We may not know the result until tomorrow morning.

But it is clear that the pay raise [despite its apparently imminent repeal] is having consequences. Look for the MSM/DNC to spend the next year trying to lay the entire blame for the raise at the doorstep of the Republican Party in an effort to unseat the Republican majority in both houses of the legislature in 2006. [They will even try to blame Rick Santorum. I don't know how they will do that, but they will find a way.]

P.S. ABC 27's coverage has been hopelessly condescending. The reporters repeatedly emphasized that most voters never think about Supreme Court races and don't even know what Supreme Court Justices do. The media coverage is another topic for another time.


7:45 AM update

The results are more or less official.

Supreme Court retention. Democrat Supreme Court Justice Russell Nigro has last his bid for retention. This is the first time a Supreme Court Justice has lost a retention vote in Pennsylvania. Credit for the defeat is widely attributed to the legislative pay raise that also included appellate judges.

Justice Newman won her retention bid. It is interesting to note that the Republican was retained, while the Democrat lost.

Dover School Board - intelligent design. Eight anti-ID candidates defeated the incumbents in the Dover School Board race. The effect on the intelligent design lawsuit is unclear at this point.
8:15 AM Wednesday update

The Dover School Board results appear to be very narrow - in one race as narrow as 26 votes.

The Supreme Court vote was also very close.
In an unprecedented vote, Pennsylvanians denied a Supreme Court justice a second term as public anger at state lawmakers over a pay-raise law apparently spread to the state's highest court. A second justice won another term only narrowly.

Justice Russell M. Nigro won only 49 percent of the vote with three percent of the state's precincts still unreported, becoming the first statewide judge to be turned out of office in a yes-or-no "retention'' election in the 36 years such elections have been held.

A Democrat, Nigro received strong support in and around his native Philadelphia but was overwhelmed by lopsided margins in south-central and southwestern regions of the state, where opposition to the pay raise was concentrated. Justice Sandra Schultz Newman won a second term with 54 percent of the vote, a close margin for a retention election.

In the last judicial election in 2001, the three jurists on the ballot all were retained by margins of three-to-one.

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