I agree 100-percent with retired Judge William W. Baker and and former US Attorney John McKay (a Republican) that Washington state should move away from directly electing judges, to a commission/retention election system:
Under a commission system, a commission of citizens and lawyers considers all applicants for a vacant court position and recommends three or more candidates to the governor. The governor must appoint one of the recommended candidates. Once appointed, the judge must periodically stand for a retention election without any opponent, in which the only question is whether to retain the judge for another term.
This is the only way to free our judiciary from the corrupting influence of big money — be it from corporations, the BIAW, trial lawyers or organized labor— and 60-percent of our judges already take office via a gubernatorial appointment alone. The commission system is a sensible, reasonable, pragmatic approach that already works well in many other states. But I don’t really expect to ever see such reform come before voters here in Washington, because quite frankly, I don’t think our legislature or our governor have the balls to lead on this issue.
No doubt, regardless of how responsible such reforms may be, opponents will brand supporters as elitist and anti-democratic, and no elected official wants to be branded by that. So once again, for the simple want of effective leadership, Washington will continue to just do what it does because that’s the way we’ve always done it.