There’s an interesting article in the PiPress today involving the judicial race between Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea and her challenger, Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund. According to the press report, the owner of a sign-making company sent Hedlund an e-mail with the subject line, “Can Muslims Be Good Americans?” The e-mail includes false claims that Barack Obama is a Muslim and that he won’t salute the flag or put his hand on his heart during the national anthem. At some point the e-mail, which I have not seen, apparently goes on to talk about campaign signs.
Hedlund starts her response to the sender as follows: “We speak the same language. And I still need to let voters know they have a choice to ‘Seek Justice, Vote For Experience’ for the Minnesota Supreme Court.” Hedlund went on to discuss the details of the campaigns signs before inadvertantly hitting the “reply to all” button. Somebody forwarded a copy of the exchange to the PiPress.
Hedlund told the PiPress that she was ignoring the first part of the e-mail and that she went right to the sign discussion. The “speaking the same language” comment referred strictly to the sign discussion, she says.
Given the context and the remarks that follow afterward, I think her explanation is possible, maybe even plausible. However, Hedlund then digs herself into another hole. Stressing how busy she has been with her campaign and judicial duties, she responds to the PiPress as follows when asked whether she thought Obama was a Muslim:
“I have no idea what he is. My level of information about the presidential candidates would not fill a thimble.”
Hmmm. Coming from a candidate for a high public office, I find that statement disturbing. I mean the presidential elections are fairly important, aren’t they? Can you really be an effective Supreme Court justice with a thimble-full of knowledge about the incoming president? Don’t we have a civic duty to educate ourselves on the elections? In short, the response strikes me as ill-advised.
Perhaps we can chalk it all up to a case of foot-in-mouth disease (just ask Michele Bachmann). But it certainly doesn’t help to have an embarrassing episode like this late in the campaign. Plus Gildea and Hedlund were both scheduled to go before the PiPress editorial board today seeking the paper’s endorsement. I wonder how that went?