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Minnesotans to judge judge candidates
State judicial races have earned reputations as the sleepier voter contests. In many cases, incumbent judges run unopposed. But in this election cycle, there are already fireworks. Attorneys in two cases are going to court to disqualify their opponents; and one challenger has infused Biblical teachings into his campaign.

St. Paul, Minn. — Before Golden Valley attorney Greg Wersal successfully challenged Minnesota's rules that barred judicial candidates from speaking their minds on specific political and legal issues, the state's judicial elections were pretty dull. Candidates were relegated to speaking about their individual credentials or the administration of justice. But now that the U.S. Supreme Court has largely lifted those speech restrictions, at least one challenger is taking advantage of that new freedom.

Bemidji Magistrate Tim Tingelstad is challenging Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, saying he won't be afraid to mix a Biblical world view with applying the Constitution and the state's statutes. "I believe in God. I believe not only in God but that his word is true and that his word is the foundational truth to which our civil law is based. In fact I believe divine law is the foundation of civil law," says Tingelstad.

Tingelstad said he will work diligently to uphold the state Constitution as he seeks God's wisdom in every decision. He is currently president of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Bemidji.

Justice Alan Page, who was elected to the court 11 years ago, says he hopes to be a justice for all the people. Unlike his opponent, Page said it's critical to the independence of the court that judicial candidates don't state their views on more than the administration of justice.

"And that is not to say that I don't have views," Page says. "But the question is not whether I have views but whether I can step away from them when it comes to dealing with the law in front of me and the facts in front of me so that I am exercising my judgement and not my will."

One of two judicial contests being challenged IN court is the other state Supreme Court seat up for re-election currently held by Helen Meyer. Meyer was out of the country and unavailable for comment. She was appointed by Jesse Ventura two years ago and has worked for 20 years as a trial lawyer and mediator. Her campaign chairman has asked the state Supreme Court to disqualify Meyer's challenger, Patricia Jambois on grounds Jambois has a psychological disability, has been on inactive status and was ruled incompetent twice on charges of criminal damage to property and violating a restraining order.

Jambois declined comment to MPR, saying to check her response to a survey Minnesota League of Women Voters is producing. The League says Jambois returned the form but didn't answer any of the eight questions. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer says she'll take Jambois off the ballot unless Jambois can prove by Friday she's a lawyer in good standing.

In a judicial race going to court Monday, the same Greg Wersal who successfully challenged the judicial ethics rules is representing a Republican activist who says David Minge can't run for re-election because Minge no longer lives in the district for which the seat is designated.

If Minge loses, his opponent, Shakopee attorney Paul Ross, would presumably win the seat by default. Ross says he'd bring 15 years of legal experience to the bench.

"I represent this district in very literal way and so I bring that to the table whereas nobody on the court of appeals can honestly say that today," he says.

Judge Minge referred questions to his campaign chairman, attorney Bob Tennessen, who calls the residency lawsuit meritless. He said Minge brings a wide variety of experience to the bench: former law professor, a law practice in Montevideo, and eight years in Congress.

"With different life perspectives, you have the experience and judgement and you understand people and you understand where they're coming from and that there's a wide variety of people that come before the court that seek justice and you have to understand that to reach the right conclusion," Tennessen says.

In another court of appeals race, International Falls attorney David Griffith will challenge Jim Randall who's served on the bench for 20 years.

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