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In the state of Washington, we vote for our judges, including on the Supreme Court. There's a conservative guy named Stephen Johnson who's running for Supreme Court, against a more liberal incumbent justice, Susan Owens.

As implied, Owens is favored by the Democrats, and Johnson by the Republicans, though this is not a partisan race, and there's bound to be some more crossover here than in other, partisan, races.

On the day before the filing deadline, two liberals filed to also run in the race. One is Richard Smith, an environmental lawyer who opposes the fact that the building industry is donating money to Johnson, and is hoping to take votes away from Johnson in the primary. His mission is to help Owens.

The other is also a supporter of Democrats -- he's donated money to them in the past -- and his name is -- drum roll, please -- Michael Johnson. The transparency of his attempt to confuse the voters is increased by the fact that he refuses to give any media interviews, seek endorsements, or raise money.

It's obvious that some on the left are behind M. Johnson's "campaign."

The nice thing here is that at least people can look in the voter pamphlet to see the differences, right?

Well, no. The Democrats who control the legislature decided there wasn't enough money for that, despite having a record-breaking surplus this year. Convenient, eh? I doubt they thought about this specific issue at the time, but I've no doubt at all that the Demcoratic legislature in my fair state simply doesn't value voting rights nearly as much as I do. I see things like dissemination of information about the candidates as being obligatory, not optional, and certainly not something that you don't fund when you have a surplus.

Not that I am making this into "see how evil the left is?" thing. It's a partisan thing, certainly, but it's not something only the left does. I remember in 2000, looking through the various races and seeing incumbent Democrat Richard A. Gephardt being challenged by Republican Richard A. Gebhardt.

At least we can laugh about that one; Gebhardt had no real chance, and lost handily. The Congressman changed his name on the ballot to "Richard A. (Dick) Gephardt." Stephen Johnson will have the appellation "attorney, state senator" on the ballot next to his name, while Michael will have only "attorney."

And some people -- falsely, as Johnson is an accomplished and fairly well-known lawyer and politician -- think that Stephen Johnson himself was chosen because there are two other Johnsons on the state Supreme Court. Of course, even if that's true, let's talk about the Kennedys ...

Anyway, it's not the dirtiest of dirty tricks. But it's pretty lame, and current (unreliable) polling shows the Johnsons and Smith in a dead heat for second.

The good news is that if Stephen Johnson does make it past the primary, it will be only he and Owens on the general election ballot.

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