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Continued: Political divide emerges on plan to overhaul Minnesota judicial elections

  • Article by: BAIRD HELGESON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 22, 2013 - 9:46 PM

With the current system, “You could get a mediocre choice over a godawful one,” she said.

Quie is touring the state to press residents, community leaders and lawmakers to join the cause. His group is backed by chambers of commerce, bar associations, labor organizations and several current and former state Supreme Court justices.

GOP applies pressure

But the idea that judicial races would forever stop being open elections is grating on some GOP activists. They see enormous constitutional problems when candidates like Wersal would never again get a direct shot at unseating an incumbent judge.

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, had joined with Democrats in sponsoring the measure — until he met with Republican supporters back home.

“There are those who feel pretty strongly about the integrity of the election process,” Kelly said. “I told them if it was a major problem, I would take my name off it. And I did. But I do think it’s worth having a conversation about it.”

State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, joined Rest and other Democrats to sponsor the measure in the Senate earlier this year. Rosen said Friday that she, too, is removing her name, under pressure from her party.

If too many Republicans withdraw support, Democrats will have to rely largely on their own members to put the question on the ballot. That could prove too big a lift during an election year in which control of the House hangs in the balance.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, “supports the concept, but constitutional amendments are not a priority for the 2014 session,” said DFL House spokesman Mike Howard.

 

Baird Helgeson • 651-925-5044

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