MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesotans returned Justices Lorie Skjerven Gildea and Paul Anderson to the state Supreme Court on Tuesday, reaffirming the power of incumbency in judicial races.
Gildea, going before the voters for the first time since she was appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2006, drew 55 percent of the vote to 45 percent for her challenger, Hennepin County District Judge Deborah Hedlund, with over 60 percent of the precincts reporting.
Anderson fared even better, with 60 percent of the vote to 40 percent for Tim Tingelstad, a family court magistrate from northwestern Minnesota who was making his second run for the high court, campaigning on an openly religious platform.
Gildea, 47, of Minneapolis, worked hard to put her name before the voters, and pointed to a long list of endorsements she had received from the state's legal community. Except for short stints as a Hennepin County district judge and as an assistant county attorney, she spent most of her career as a litigator, both as an associate general counsel for the University of Minnesota and in private practice.
Hedlund, 61, of Minnetonka, has been a Hennepin County judge for 28 years, and said the Supreme Court needs more justices with trial judge experience, particularly with handling criminal cases.
Anderson, 64, of Inver Grove Heights, has been on the Supreme Court since 1994. He was chief judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals from 1992-1994, and was in private practice before that. He's been an active ambassador for Minnesota's court system, frequently speaking before school classes and civic groups, and has hosted visiting judges from abroad.
Tingelstad, 48, of Bemidji, has been a magistrate since 1999. He took more advantage than the other candidates of freedoms granted by a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down most of the state's strict limits on what judicial candidates could say on issues and how they could campaign. He had the endorsement of the anti-abortion group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.
There was also one contested race for the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Judge Terri Stoneburner, who's been on the Appeals Court since 2000, defeated International Falls attorney Daniel Griffith, 58 percent to 42 percent.