Michigan Democrats ID three MSC candidates

Michigan Information & Research Service is reporting that the Michigan Democratic Party is naming “at least three judges are already seeking a Democratic state Supreme Court nomination for 2010. …

“They are: Wayne County Circuit Court judges Deborah Thomas and Robert Columbo and Oakland County Circuit Judge Denise Langford Morris.”

Subscribers to MIRS can read the whole story here.

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Dems nominate Hathaway for MSC

wins floor fight at state Democratic convention and ready to take on Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Diane M. Hathaway: wins floor fight at state Democratic convention and ready to take on Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor.

At its state convention in Lansing over the weekend, the Michigan Democratic Party nominated Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Diane Marie Hathaway as its candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court.

Despite a strong grassroots challenge from fellow Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas – she came within 300 votes according to an Associated Press report – Hathaway prevailed with the backing of several unions, the AFL-CIO, the United Auto Workers, the Michigan Education Association, and an endorsement from the Michigan Association for Justice.

Hathaway took the expected swipes at the Michigan Republican Party and her November opponent, incumbent Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor, the Republican nominee. From the Associated Press:

“I love the state of Michigan,” Hathaway told delegates. “I love her people and I love her environment. Our Republican-dominated Supreme Court is hurting you both.”

Hathaway and Taylor are seeking an eight-year term on the MSC.

Two for the show

With Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Diane Marie Hathaway’s announcement of her Michigan Supreme Court candidacy during a press conference call last Tuesday, the Michigan Democratic Party now has two high court candidates to choose from at its state convention this weekend.

Deborah Thomas, also a circuit judge in Wayne County, has been seeking the nomination for months.

One of them will emerge as the MDP’s nominee this weekend.

Hathaway came out swinging on Tuesday, calling Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor “a walking conflict of interest” who rules for insurance companies the bulk of the time, and, says Hathaway, will get millions of dollars in support from insurers and large corporations. Taylor has raised nearly $1.5 million so far for his re-election campaign.

The odds favor Hathaway for the nomination. She’s picked up key endorsements from the AFL-CIO, the United Auto Workers, the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Association for Justice. Hathaway told reporters she was in the process of securing additional endorsements, prompting one of the newshounds to ask, “Who else do you need?”

Don’t count Thomas out, though. Her campaign web site is replete with criticism of Taylor’s and the Republican majority’s jurisprudence. She’s had plenty to say about why a Hathaway candidacy will fall flat. She’s planning a strong convention presence and told me earlier this afternoon that she’ll be there this weekend “with every last vote” from her supporters.

No matter which of the two MSC hopefuls gets the nomination, she will face the uphill battle of knocking off the incumbent Taylor, the Michigan Republican Party’s choice for the November ballot. Each has been on the short end of the electoral stick before. Hathaway lost a bid for the Court of Appeals in 2006. Thomas had an unsuccessful run for the Michigan Supreme Court in 2004.

Bill Ballenger, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, has remarked to me in the past that 95 percent of all incumbent judges in Michigan in the last 20 years have been re-elected.

Long odds for a challenger, no matter who gets the nod.

Convention floor fight brewing for MDP supreme court nomination?

Wayne Circuit Court Judge Diane Marie Hathaway told the Associated Press yesterday that she’s “strongly” considering a run for the Michigan Supreme Court and will announce her decision before the Michigan Democratic Party convention, which opens Sept. 5.

If she decides to seek the Democratic nomination, she could have a convention floor fight on her hands. Fellow Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas, who’s been campaigning for the nomination for quite some time, says she won’t back down.

According to a report in Michigan Information and Research’s Capitol Capsule, Thomas said that state Democratic leadership would be making a mistake by nominating Hathaway, who has received organized labor’s endorsement.

Thomas actually defeated incumbent Justice Stephen Markman in Wayne and Washtenaw counties in 2004 and wiped out the other Republican-nominated candidate, Appellate Judge Brian Zahra, by a 3-to-1 ratio in Wayne County. In 2006, when Hathaway tried to unseat Zahra, who was running as an incumbent, she lost to Zahra in Wayne County.

“If Judge Hathaway cannot defeat a Republican incumbent in Wayne County, she cannot win the Michigan Supreme Court race,” Thomas said in a statement. “If Judge Hathaway cannot defeat a Republican in the five counties encompassed by the Court of Appeals race, there is no reason to believe she can defeat Justice Cliff Taylor in any of those counties.”

MIRS reported that Thomas’ campaign manager, Gigi Thomas, is mobilizing supporters and getting them ready for a floor vote.

Meanwhile, Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor breezed to the state Republican Party nomination at the party convention in Novi over the weekend.

In one supporter’s view, Taylor has deity-like status. A hand-lettered sign proclaimed, “In Cliff We Trust.”