Monroe County circuit judge elections go to Dems: What a difference an Election Day makes

Both contested races for circuit court judge in Monroe County on Tuesday went to the Democratic Party candidate.

But if only the ballots cast on Election Day were counted, the two Republicans would have won.

In Division 1, Geoff Bradley won the race with Carl Lamb to replace retiring judge Elizabeth Cure, a Democrat. Bradley got 37,408 votes (61.5 percent) compared to Lamb’s 23,457 (38.5 percent).

For the last 14 years, Bradley has served as a deputy prosecuting attorney in the Monroe County prosecutor’s office. Lamb is a Bloomington attorney with experience in criminal and civil law.

In Division 8, incumbent judge Judith Benckart, a Republican who was appointed to the seat in 2018 by Gov. Eric Holcomb, fared slightly better than Lamb but still lost to Kara Krothe, the Democratic Party challenger. Krothe got 35,466 votes (58.1 percent) compared to Benckart’s 25,572 (41.9).

Krothe is a deputy public defender in the Monroe County public defender’s office. She has worked in that office for 15 years

In Division 2, incumbent Democrat Valeri Haughton was unchallenged.

Both Republican candidates for local judge did a few points better than the top of the party ticket, President Donald Trump, who drew 34.9 percent of the Monroe County vote. Benckart did 7 points better than that. Lamb did about 3.5 points better.

Bloomington’s city boundary line figured in the the geographic distribution of support among the candidates for judge. Inside the city, Democrats enjoyed stronger support. Outside the city, the Republican candidates for judge won the majority of precincts.

The geographic divide was less sharp for Election Day votes. Republican strength among Election Day voters crossed inside city boundaries, into some of the precincts that lie along the inside fringe of the city boundary.

If just the ballots cast on Election Day were counted, Lamb’s 13,849 votes (56 percent) would have won the election against Bradley’s 10,899 (44 percent).

And Benckart’s 14,500 votes (58.6 percent), compared to Krothe’s 10,250 (41.4 percent), would have put her back in her judge’s seat. The Election Day percentages for Benckart and Krothe were just about flipped compared to the overall outcome.

Candidates in the contested races for judge raised similar amounts of money for their campaigns. In 2020, Krothe raised $29,665  compared to Benckart’s $26,052. Bradley raised $15,590  compared to Lamb’s $13,568.

All 2020 Monroe County Results

[Canvas Report] [Cumulative Results] [Results by Precinct]