Every year there is a judicial election, lawyers are besieged by friends and family asking them who they should vote for, says Louisville attorney Bob Heleringer.
Eight years ago, he said he sent out postcards with his preferred choices. But this year, he is seeking to broaden his reach.
He hasn’t told his wife, but he has spent about $2,000 to buy ads in The Courier Journal listing his favorite judicial candidates. The first appeared last Sunday, the second this Sunday and the third on Monday.
Not only that, Heleringer, a horseracing expert and author of the 973-page “Equine Regulatory Law,” handicaps the contested judicial races, which you don’t get from Citizens for Better Judges or the Louisville Bar Association.
Incumbent Jefferson Circuit Judge Mary Shaw, for example, is an “odds-on favorite.”
Heleringer, who also has written opinion columns published in the Courier Journal, says he hates the fact that so many people cast votes in judicial contests only because they recognize the candidate’s last name.
“That is terrible,” he said.
He has been stung himself by the phenomena. He lost a judicial race in 2015 to a Hollenbach (Todd IV, son of a former county judge) even though his opponent, a former state treasurer, was found qualified or highly qualified by only 33% of participants in a Louisville Bar Association poll.
The next year, Heleringer lost to a Nicholson (Sara, daughter of Circuit Court Clerk David Nicholson), even though she was deemed unqualified by 81 percent of the bar association lawyers who rated her.
Heleringer, a longtime GOP state lawmaker, said he has taken grief from Republicans for his endorsement at the top of the ticket — McKenzie Cantrell, a Democratic state representative, for Court of Appeals.
She is running against District Judge Annette Karem and Stan Whetzel.
Heleringer said he reminds his aggrieved GOP callers that judicial races are supposed to be nonpartisan. Besides, he knows Cantrell in his capacity as a Frankfort lobbyist.
“Rep. Cantrell is exceptionally bright and conscientious,” he says in the advertisement.
In other races, Heleringer says of Todd Lewis, who is running for Circuit Court Division 9 against Sarah Clay and four others: “In a crowded field, his past performances stand out.”
He says Ted Shouse, running in Division 7 against Critt Cunningham and Melissa Logan Bellows, showed “great leadership in organizing pro bono (free) representation for Black Lives Matter Protesters" and is "the pick."
And he says Shaw earned high marks in the bar poll and treats everyone in her court fairly.
"For the cynics among the readers,” he says, “I have no cases currently pending in her court."
Why does he feel compelled to publicly share his endorsements when Citizens for Betters Judges, an attorney group, has already published theirs?
“They work their side of the street, and I work mine. I want to do my own thing.”
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Former KY lawmaker, attorney Bob Heleringer picks judicial elections