The Associated Press is covering the opening on the Supreme Court Bench in Pennsylvania. The seat will be the lone position available in 2009. It was created by the retirement of Democrat Justice Jane Cutler Greenspan.
Unfortunately, the level of attention paid to judicial candidates is rarely high. This race could add to the political intrigue of 2010. As we discussed previously, the census will be conducted in 2010 and redistricting will occur after that.
Historically, litigation follows the redistricting plans created by the Senate. The final arbiter of that plan would be the State Supreme Court. The Republicans had a majority on the bench until the 2007 election when two Democrats were elected to the post. Now, the Democrats have a 1 seat majority. With the retirement of Democrat Justice Greenspan, that brings the bench to an even distribution. Whichever party wins the position will ultimately tip the scales and create a majority for the winner’s party.
Both parties are likely to be heavily involved in this race. It be the Democrat’s first chance to prove that they can replicate the success of the Obama operation in Pennsylvania. It will also be the first chance for the Republicans to pull their collective heads out of their bottoms and try to win an election since their defeat in the 2008 Election.
Except for the impressive win of Republican Tom Corbett to the post of Attorney General, the Republican Party failed to capture a statewide win in 2008.
So far, there is no dearth of candidates. The Republican Candidates are Superior Court Justices Joan Orie Melvin, Cheryll Allen, and Jacqueline Shogan and Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Paul Panepinto. The Democratic Candidates are Superior Court Jack Panella and Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.
All of the candidates have sought statewide office before with the exception of Judge M. Teresa Sarmina. Justices Melvin, Allen, Shogan, and Panella have been successful. Panepinto couldn’t win the 2007 Primary for the Republican nomination to the Supreme Court.
The Democrats plan to meet on January, 31 to consider endorsing candidates. The Republicans plan to meet on February 7, to do the same.