Yes, Todd is a Democrat and Other Judicial Race Tidbits

Few things will make the writer of a political piece let out a “D’oh!” like goofing on someone’s party affiliation. But that’s what happened when I wrote my “From the Chief” column last week and got Superior Court Judge Deborah Todd’s party ties mixed up. Several vigilant writers were kind enough to point out that she is a Democrat – a “life-long Democrat,” as the judge told me this week.

But that wasn’t the only feedback I got. A few people contacted me to let me know there’s talk of some other potential candidates, including Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge John Younge and state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola. Younge, who is black, and Piccola, who is from Dauphin County, would help diversify the crowd somewhat.

Another judge who someone suggested – but I haven’t heard mentioned as being interested in running – is Commonwealth Court Judge Bonnie Leadbetter.

The other thing I’m hearing is the price tag to win a seat on the court: at least $2 million.

There’s good reason to think that number is on the mark. Supreme Court Justice Max Baer spent roughly $1.7 million in 2003 in his victory over Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin, who spent $1.1 million.

A few court watchers have theorized that the price tag might ultimately be higher than $2 million because there are now two seats open on the court, with party control up for grabs. Those same people have told me that because the Pennsylvania GOP suffered so many losses in the November elections – the governor’s race, Sen. Rick Santorum’s seat, apparently the state House, among others – they expect the GOP to go all out in the statewide judicial races. And if that happens, they say, it’s likely to drive up the amount of money raised for the races.

–Hank Grezlak, Editor-in-Chief

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