Gov. Mark Dayton is considering several candidates with past connections to Democratic politics to fill an upcoming opening on the Minnesota Supreme Court.
The Commission on Judicial Selection recommended two judges and an attorney to the governor on Tuesday, including Court of Appeals judges Edward Cleary and Natalie Hudson, and Minneapolis attorney and litigator David Lillehaug. Dayton must fill the seat currently occupied by Justice Paul Anderson, who is retiring at the end of May.
Cleary currently sits on the Minnesota Court of Appeals for the 4th Congressional District and spent the bulk of his career on criminal defense and civil litigation. Cleary sat on the canvasing board during the 2008 recount between Sen. Al Franken and Norm Coleman.
Hudson serves on the Minnesota Court of Appeals as an at large judge and previously worked as an the St. Paul City attorney and as Assistant Attorney General under Democrat Skip Humphrey.
Lillehaug is a former United States Attorney for Minnesota and has long been active in DFL politics. After attending Harvard Law, he served as the issues aide and executive assistant for Minnesota Democrat Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign in 1984. In 1998, he failed to get the DFL endorsement to run for Minnesota Attorney General, and just two years later he failed to earn the party’s backing again, this time for the U.S. Senate. Instead, Lillehaug has has a successful career as a political lawyer. Lillehaug was one of the chief attorneys for the DFL during the 2008 U.S. recount, and he has become the go-to guy for Dayton, who used him as an attorney during the 2010 recount with Tom Emmer and during the 2011 government shutdown.
This will be Dayton’s second appointment to the Supreme Court. He appointed Justice Wilhelmina Wright to the court in August. Lillehaug was also considered for her spot.