Groups campaign to oust Arizona Supreme Court judge
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services/East Valley Tribune
A loosely organized effort to oust a state Supreme Court justice is forcing him to consider an unprecedented campaign to keep his post.
Justice John Pelander said he is upset by “hit pieces” being put out by groups urging that he not be retained on the bench this year. He said the information being circulated about a September ruling is “misleading” at best.
Pelander, worried, though, about the problems of mounting an active campaign, a first for a Supreme Court justice since direct elections were scrapped in 1974. Rules for judges on political activity would constrain what he can say and Pelander is precluded from soliciting the necessary funds himself.
But attorney Paul Eckstein said he may run a separate campaign, independent of Pelander, to combat the efforts to oust the judge. And Eckstein, a Democrat, said he is doing that despite the fact that Pelander is a Republican appointed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
Campaign materials being put out by groups as diverse as the Williams Tea Part and Legislative District 18 Republican Committee are urging a “no” on the ballot question about retaining Pelander.
The anger is focused on Pelander because the Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that Proposition 121 can be on the ballot. That measure, if approved, would amend the state Constitution to create an open primary system where all candidates run against each other regardless of party affiliation, with the top two advancing to the general election.
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