Profile of Candidates Misquoted Etheridge
Kristian Allen, a candidate for District Court judge, held a press conference in the office of a prominent defense attorney in Randolph County, not in the office of a prominent Democrat, as was incorrectly reported in Friday's edition.
The error nearly caused a major dispute in what has become a heated contest. The Pilot misquoted incumbent District Court Judge Scott Etheridge. Allen is challenging Etheridge in the nonpartisan race, in which partisan politics has become a hot-button issue. Both are Republicans.
Etheridge was talking about whether his tough rulings led defense attorneys to support Allen.
Allen did speak, by invitation, at a Democratic Party event. Her campaign signs were then put on display at Democratic Party headquarters. They were already alongside Etheridge's signs at Republican headquarters. When Republican Party Chairman Alan Pugh found out she had material at "the other place," he pulled Allen's signs, saying his party considered the race actually partisan.
Etheridge called it hypocritical to pretend that any elections are truly nonpartisan, saying both parties make sure they let voters know which party so-called "nonpartisan" candidates are in.
Four years ago, when he won his seat on the bench, complaints resounded over a slick flier produced by the Republican Party clearly identifying each Republican office seeker in every "nonpartisan" race, whether school board or judiciary.
Bruce Cunningham, at the time a candidate for the Moore County Board of Education, wrote a letter to The Pilot calling particular attention to Etheridge.
"The presence of Scott Etheridge's photo is most disturbing because as recently as June, four justices on the United States Supreme Court signed an opinion in a case that included a statement that partisan politics is 'incompatible' with the judicial role," Cunningham wrote. "I believe that in his partisan effort to get elected, he has made himself vulnerable to a legal challenge as to his impartiality and his ability to preside over highly publicized cases."
Allen and her supporters were outraged at Etheridge's accusation that he had cooperated with a Democrat in the way she held her press conference. They accused Etheridge of lying. The allegation had been made weeks ago in another newspaper, they said, and shown to be false.
Allen had held a press conference in a law office -- but it was the law library of Charlie Brown. He is not a Democrat, but a former Republican Party chairman.
John Chappell can be reached at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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