By Natalka Karaman, Contributing Writer
Democrat David Wecht of Allegheny County is the first statewide candidate on television in the 2011 cycle. The Superior Court hopeful’s campaign today began airing a cutesy 30 second ad on broadcast and cable in southwestern Pa.
The spot focuses on Wecht’s family; apparently the qualities that make a good father also make a good judge.
The race for Pennsylvania Superior Court has been low key so far, and likely will come down to a question of turnout for local races around the state. The consensus among analysts that PoliticsPA talked with is that Wecht’s key to victory is a strong showing in his geographic base, hence the limited distribution of the ad.
The commercial was produced by Envision Communications Inc., a Washington DC-based firm that also did the spots for Jason Altmire (D-Allegheny).
Wecht, of Allegheny County, has served as judge in Allegheny County’s family court division for the last eight years. He imposed a “One Family, One Judge” rule so that all members from a given family present their legal issues to the same judge, ensuring consistency.
Stabile, from Cumberland County, is a managing partner of his firm’s Harrisburg office and Middlesex Township supervisor who has 30 years of legal experience including practice before appellate courts.
The ad notes that Wecht is the only candidate running for Superior Court with a highly recommended rating from the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and was endorsed Monday by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Both candidates have made commitments to the Pennsylvania Bar Association to refrain from negative campaigning.
The Superior Court is one of Pennsylvania’s two statewide intermediate appellate courts—a step below the state’s highest court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and a step above the Courts of Common Pleas, trial courts in each of the state’s 67 counties. The Superior Court reviews most of the civil and criminal cases appealed from the Courts of Common Pleas and is usually the “final stop” for most appeals since only cases involving issues of statewide importance end up in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The 15 judges are elected to 10-year terms by voters across Pennsylvania. After their initial terms, judges can choose to run in non-partisan retention elections, which require only a “yes” or “no” vote, for additional ten year terms. There are no term limits for Superior Court judges, although they must retire at age 70.