SEATTLE - A measure that would have, for the first time, allowed
candidates for the State Supreme Court to accept public campaign funding
made it all the way to the Senate floor this session, but fell short of
the votes needed to become law. Opponents, in part, blamed the poor
economy for their votes, but supporters said it would have been a
bargain that would boost the public interest.
Betty Ogden, board member with the League of Women Voters in
Tacoma, says $4 million was poured into State Supreme Court elections in
2006, leaving voters to wonder what powerful interest groups both
inside and outside the state might be affecting the course of justice.
"The thinking on it is, that they would have the opportunity of opting
into public campaign funding, in which case they would be able to count
on public funding, instead of rich corporations."
A companion version of the Judicial Elections Reform Act (SB 5912)
failed to muster enough votes in the House. So, the public financing
option is dead for now; but supporters say they will try again next
Opponents of public financing say the state simply could not afford to
be pouring money into political campaigns this year. State Sen. Jim
"I would argue that it's a great deal; we would make much-wiser
decisions, if in fact we did not have the interest groups driving the
show; determining in fact who goes into office and who doesn't by these
Under the proposal, candidates for the State Supreme Court would have
the option of using public funding. Similar measures have been passed in
Wisconsin, New Mexico, North Carolina and Connecticut.