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OCT 28- NOV 05, 2014

Cross Endorsements Bad News For Voters of Either Party

October 28, 2014

Astonishingly, out of five state Supreme Court races, only one - the race between Justice Frederick Marshall (R) and John Del Monte (D) will be contested. The other four seats that are open are uncontested since Republican and Democratic party bosses in Erie County decided to “cross endorse” the same candidates. What’s even more astonishing is that there is not a peep of protest from the people, who have been denied their right of electoral choice.

Your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s the message being sent by the bosses of the Democratic and Republican parties who cross endorse judicial candidates here in order to deprive voters of the choice to select state supreme court judges.

This year, both parties endorsed four of six candidates running for state Supreme Court and that means that in four races there will be no opponent - hence no choice for voters.

The candidates who got both parties' endorsement--via cross endorsement--are the next judges, despite the formality of an election.

Eyebrows were raised because the parties did not cross endorse incumbent Judge Frederick Marshall, who has served for 14 years, and John DelMonte, the brother of former state Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte.

But they did endorse Dennis Ward, the former Erie County elections commissioner and secretary of the Democratic Party there; former Niagara County Legislator Paul Wojtaszek, the brother of former Niagara County GOP head Henry Wojtaszek and Niagara County Judge Kathleen Wojtaszek-Gariano; Buffalo City Court Judge Jeanette Ogden and incumbent state Supreme Court Judge Donna Siwek.

One for you, one for me, the cross endorsement scheme, devised by party bosses, ensures a candidate's victory.

While all of the candidates (even those who will not have an opponent) are most likely qualified, regardless of their political affiliation, it is the process of cross endorsement itself that is wrong.

When party bosses meet at some hotel, dropping any pretense that they are philosophically at odds with one another, and decide between them who is going to be judge - it is the voter who loses.

This year in four out of five state Supreme Court races, party bosses, not the people, will have chosen the next judge.

This year the Democrats got two and the Republicans got two sure bets through cross endorsements.

The 5th seat will be contested between the Democrat DelMonte and the Republican Marshall.

Some say, well what difference does it make?

There could be a reason why voters might want to choose: They might wish to choose based on party affiliation, judicial track record, legal ideology, whether the candidate came from civil, criminal, defense or prosecution, government or private, or any number of good and sufficient reasons that do not supplant the party bosses wisdom over the wisdom of the people in selecting their government representatives.

Not all judges are the same, nor do they come to the bench with the same understandings and approach to the law.

There is supposed to be an election by the people of state Supreme Court justices.

But when the two major party bosses decide to endorse the same candidate, there is no election.

It is clear why the bosses did this.

What is not clear is why the public allows it.





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