A district judge, a well-known lawyer and a public defender will take on Gildea.
Supreme Court Justice Lorie Gildea's campaign to keep her seat got crowded in the final hours Tuesday with two more challengers filing -- Hennepin County District Judge Deborah Hedlund and combative lawyer Jill Clark.
They join F. Richard Gallo Jr. of St. Paul, who had filed before.
Hedlund has been on the bench since 1980, but she and Clark have an odd connection: a suit against the Wayzata Country Club. The judge testified in 2005 on behalf of Clark's client Ali Dunham and said the club had an attitude that female members should be seen and not heard. Portions of the case are still alive.
The last-minute entries introduce strong characters into Gildea's first election campaign. It is extremely unusual for a sitting judge to challenge a Supreme Court justice. Hedlund and Gildea worked in the same jurisdiction.
Hedlund said she's running because with only 2 1/2 months on the county bench, Gildea has the most trial experience of the seven justices. "I filed so there would be somebody running who had trial judge experience," Hedlund said. "I'm a serious candidate. I'm the only candidate who has 30-plus years of experience."
As she filed, Clark said she had decided Tuesday morning to run. "I decided this was a good opportunity to discuss some issues with the appointment process," she said.
Clark said she is well-qualified for the job. She opposes a movement that would change how judges stand for election. She also wants to raise issues with the judicial appointment process. Clark was quick to note there are many hard-working judges, but she said some view the job as "quasi-retirement."
"No institution can long survive unless it continues to reform itself," she said.
Gallo has been an assistant state public defender for more than two decades, primarily handling administrative criminal work. He called Gildea a "political appointee" and said her "record speaks for itself."
Gallo said that the appellate judge appointment process has become too political and that many good jurists aren't appointed because they don't "play the game."
Gildea said she loves her job and welcomes the opportunity to run a statewide campaign. "I agree that judicial selection should not be political," she said. "The former chief justice [Russell Anderson] said it best: You cannot let the heavy hand of politics come to rest on the scales of justice."
Gildea was appointed to the Hennepin County bench in September 2005. In January 2006, Gov. Tim Pawlenty named her to the state Supreme Court. She was a prosecutor in the Hennepin County attorney's office for one year and associate general counsel at the University of Minnesota for 11 years. She was in private practice at Arent Fox in Washington for 13 years.
Candidates had until 5 p.m. Tuesday to file for office. They have until 5 p.m. Thursday to withdraw.
Justice Paul Anderson also is up for election this year. Alan Lawrence Nelson of Maplewood and Tim Tingelstad of Bemidji have filed to run against him.
Clark has never sought a judicial appointment but ran against Hennepin County District Judge Thomas Wexler in 2002 and lost. Gallo has never run for office.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747