Sitting Judges Are Facing Opposition in Two Contests; Raising Money for Judicial Elections Usually Means Some Self-Financing

Article excerpt

Byline: Charles Broward

Many know that by the time voters reach the judicial lines on their ballots in August and later in November, simply recognizing a name can be a challenge.

But while the four races for a seat on the bench in the local judicial circuit may not be stealing the headlines, there is no lack of story lines, particularly when looking at the dollars.

The election for Circuit Court judge, Group 34, is a race with plenty of money, most of which has come from the candidates' pockets, as well as a rare challenge to a sitting judge.

Lawyer Suzanne Bass has taken on incumbent John Merrett. Bass leads Merrett with about $125,000 contributed to her campaign compared to Merrett's $112,000. The difference in their funding can be attributed to the $20,000 more Bass has spent of her own money, contributing a total of $95,000 to her cause.

"I hope it reflects the seriousness about which I seek to serve," Bass said of her personal spending.

Bass said judicial candidates cannot personally seek contributions.

They are instead collected indirectly through committee. She said self-financing also kept her from having to "hold her hand out" for donations during tough economic times.

As for why she chose to take on a sitting judge, she said she is doing so because she cares for the quality of the justice system and feels every elected official, including judges, should be held accountable.

While challenging a sitting judge is rare and rarely successful, another race in which that is happening is for Circuit Judge Brian Davis' seat in Nassau County.

Most of Davis's opposition, however, entered the race in case his pending appointment to the federal bench is confirmed by the U.S. Senate before the primary elections Aug. 14, which now seems unlikely to occur.

Attorney Melina Buncome, however, has made it publicly clear that she intends to follow through with her bid for Davis's seat. Currently, however, Davis is well ahead of her in terms of dollars with $74,762 in his campaign account compared to Buncome's $8,365, both mostly funded by outside contributors. …