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Gov. Richardson's Allies Step In To Judicial Race

June 1, 2010, 12:00 am
By Corey Pein
This strange campaign mailer urges Democratic primary voters to "keep" a slate of appointed judges to the 1st Judicial District Court.

What's strange about it?

Aside from its endorsement of multiple candidates and somewhat misleading emphasis on their incumbency—only Sheri Raphaelson has been appointed to the bench for more than a few months—there is the matter of the flyer's provenance.



It was "Paid for by the Committee to Keep Our Judges, Mark Baker, Treasurer."

The Committee shares a PO Box with Long, Pound & Komer, PA, the politically active Santa Fe law firm that employs Baker.

The firm was last seen representing Gov. Bill Richardson's office in a prominent pay-to-play lawsuit involving alleged corruption at the State Investment Council. And in February, Baker and former New Mexico Democratic Party chairman John Wertheim led a successful legal challenge to knock a Republican judicial candidate off the ballot.

The flyer reads, in part:
"Each of our judges has been evaluated and nominated by the Judicial Nominating Commission, based on their merit and experience. Each of them is working hard—and working for you. On Tuesday, let's keep them on the bench."


This description omits the fact that it is Gov. Richardson who appoints these judges, based on the Nominating Commission's narrowed list of candidates—a process that is, as Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano put it to SFR last year, more political than most people realize.


The appointed judges must then run for office, but they have some distinct advantages over their fellow Democratic primary opponents. They can tout their incumbency, for starters—even if they've only been on the job a few weeks.


And then—as campaign materials like this flyer demonstrate—they benefit from support of friends and allies of the governor, who appointed them in the first place.

Cross-posted at Muckracker's Guide.

 

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