This blog has been closely following the Democratic primary elections for county judge in Brooklyn, New York, where voters were forced to choose between candidates approved by the Democratic party machine and a group of “insurgents” running on an independent slate. The election took place earlier this month, and the results are … flabbergasting.
In a low-turnout election, voters seem to have totally ignored both the group affiliations of the candidates and whether they had been approved by pre-screening committees. Instead, they seem to have chosen candidates based on their gender. All six open seats went to women. In the process, well-regarded male judges lost their jobs, and at least one female candidate who was deemed unqualified by at least three different screening panels handily won her District nomination.
The Gotham Gazette reports:
With 12 candidates vying for six civil court seats, Brooklynites nominated only women to the bench and no men, paying little attention to slates, endorsements, experience, or judicial screening panel approvals. Ignoring a bitter feud playing out between the Kings County Democratic Committee and a political operative running his own insurgent slate, voters chose a combination of women from both slates as well as a female judge running independently.
The trend did not go unnoticed and it has some speculating that in low-turnout elections, uninformed voters simply chose women because they may believe them to be more trustworthy and suited for judgeships.
The only woman on the ballot who was not nominated was Isiris Isaacs, a client of Tilzer’s who was unanimous approved by all four judiciary committees and lost twice before running on the county slate. Close watchers speculate that she does not have an easily discernible female name and was therefore at a disadvantage among voters choosing based on perceived gender identification.
Some of the women who won, of course, may be well-suited for judicial office. But the crude manner in which they were selected, coupled with the fact that a Democratic nomination virtually assures victory in the general election, does no favors to the candidates or their constituents.