Arizona Capitol Times
Judges in Maricopa and Pima counties don’t want to run retention campaigns. But as political polarization and election denial draw closer to the judiciary, they may have to.
Judicial sources feared the merit selection and retention system used in Arizona’s largest counties to elect judges, which largely dodges partisan pitfalls, was already at risk of further politicization based on an unusual 2022 retention election.
But the threat looms larger as distrust in elections bleeds into the judiciary, and judges tasked with ruling on election contests or other controversial cases are caught in the crossfire.
Now, political consultants and judicial commissioners are slated to advise judges to prepare to form campaign committees in 2024 in an upcoming judicial conference. But they warn they must do so within the strict confines of judicial ethics.
“It’s a delicate, little minefield that they have to navigate,” said April Elliot, executive director of the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct and staff director for the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.
“They should be prepared to do this, and go ahead and do it, whether they think they’re going to be a target or not.”