WHAT if you raised $75,000 to fight an election campaign and no opponent showed up? That's the predicament that faced campaign managers for the three Baltimore Circuit Court judges seeking election to full terms this year. Before the filing deadline, the campaign committee arranged for a dozen or so billboards around town and some other advertising. What to do? Break the commitments? Give the money or billboard space to charity? Save it till next time (but next time is 15 years off)? Go ahead with at least some advertising?
Breaking the arrangements for the advertising would be unthinkable for judges, they figured. Strict campaign spending laws would make it tricky to give away the money or space, they believed. Saving it for 15 years didn't make sense. So they went ahead with the billboards and other advertising. As a result, about a dozen billboards around town have sprouted huge ads for the three judges -- their names and faces, and an appeal for your votes. Since there is no opposition, each judge needs only one vote to win. That's a lot of money for three votes.
Silly? No more so than having judges run for election against opposition in the first place. The contributions came from lawyers, many of whom will appear before the judges at one time or another. People who are uneasy at legislators getting campaign contributions from lobbyists ought to think twice about forcing judges to put the arm on fat cats whose livelihoods depend on success in their court rooms.
In case you miss one of the billboards, the judges are Andre M. Davis, Joseph P. McCurdy, Jr. and Paul A. Smith.