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Court incumbents do well

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Incumbents were expected to win all three Minnesota Supreme Court justice elections as of late Tuesday. With half of all precincts reporting, each incumbent had about 60 percent of the vote.

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Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea, a Plummer native and former University of Minnesota attorney, faced Dan Griffith of International Falls. She played up her experience leading the judicial branch.

Rookie Justice David Stras was challenged by Tim Tingelstad of Bemidji. Stras said his federal court and academic background is a plus. Tingelstad, however, said his time spent as a judicial magistrate is a better background.

The third race featured Justice Barry Anderson defending his seat against Dean Barkley, who spent 62 days as U.S. senator after Paul Wellstone's death 10 years ago.

The three challengers said sitting justices have great advantages, including being labeled "incumbent" on the ballot. Being appointed in mid-term, like happened with all three incumbents, also gives them an advantage before facing a vote for the first time.

Justices, elected for six years, are paid $137,601 a year, while the chief justice's salary is $151,361.

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