In the 2010 elections there were three Washington state Supreme Court races. As usual, those races drew far fewer votes than other more prominent partisan political offices.
But one race caught the attention of voters. The battle between Charlie Wiggins and three-term incumbent Richard Sanders drew about 350,000 more votes than each of the other two court races -- a difference of more than 20 percent.
Why the interest? Likely, it was because of Sanders, an outspoken libertarian who drew admonishments from a judicial ethics committee and plenty of press attention during his 15 years on the court. Wiggins won the 2010 race by less than one percentage point.
Now Sanders is back, telling me proudly, “I thought I made a unique contribution to the state Supreme Court. The other ones aren't like me, I'm not like them. I have a different perspective on things.”
Here’s Sanders on the effort to broadly decriminalize marijuana in Washington state via Initiative 502:
Sanders is running against Sheryl McCloud, a criminal defense and appellate attorney who says Sanders has the wrong “temperament” for the state's highest court.
"The role of a judge is to be fair and to be impartial and to have the right judicial temperament, that allows them to take every case on the facts and the law without prejudgment," she said.
I spoke with Sanders at his Maury Island home and met McCloud in downtown Bainbridge Island where she lives. (I also watched her work out with her boxing coach; she says it’s the best exercise program she ever had).
McCloud has no experience as a sitting judge but says she still has plenty to offer:
Sanders says he has great respect for McCloud, because of her work protecting the rights of criminal defendants. He sees protecting individual rights as the most important role of a justice:
McCloud and Sanders agree on the importance of defending the constitutional rights of Washington residents. Here’s Sheryl McCloud on how she sees the race and the job: