Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, November 7, 2002


Page 1


Bacigalupo Blocks Sweep Of Judicial Races By Prosecutors


By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts


State Bar Court Judge Paul Bacigalupo has won election to the Los Angeles Superior Court, becoming the first non-prosecutor to win an open seat on the unified court.

Bacigalupo was the biggest winner on Tuesday, gaining 59.75 percent in final returns to defeat Deputy District Attorney David Gelfound. Deputy district attorneys Hank Goldberg, Richard Walmark, and Richard Naranjo also won Superior Court terms.

Thousands of late absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted, but while they could change the percentages, there are not enough to alter the outcome of any judicial race. 

The winners will take office Jan. 6, along with Lauren Weis, who retired from the District Attorney’s Office after winning outright in the March primary. Weis will succeed Judge Richard Kanner, who did not run for re-election.

Bacigalupo was the biggest spender among the eight judicial candidates on Tuesday’s ballot, reporting expenditures topping $180,000 by the Oct. 19 close of the last reporting period.

Final reports on pre-election spending are not due until January.

His war chest, the largest of any county judicial candidate in the last eight years, enabled him to purchase candidate statements in the official ballot pamphlets in both the primary and general elections. He was the only candidate to do so in the general, in which the cost was $61,000.

Slate Mailers

He also had the benefit of placement on several slate mailers, a “well qualified” rating from the County Bar, the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times—all four of Tuesday’s contests were won by Times-endorsed candidates—and the ballot designation “Judge, State Bar.”

Nearly all winners of countywide judicial races in recent years have had ballot designations that included the word “Prosecutor” or “Judge.” Bacigalupo successfully defended a lawsuit, funded by the Gelfound campaign, which contended the designation would mislead voters into thinking he was an incumbent Superior Court judge.

Candidate Statements

The candidate statements—which consumed nearly half of his budget—were key to winning, Bacigalupo said, since they detailed his background and endorsements, including  those of Sheriff Lee Baca, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, and the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

“Everybody that I talked to…looked at the ballot statement,” he told the MetNews. “Having so many law enforcement endorsements was critical …since I was facing a deputy DA.”

Bacigalupo is married to Lucy McCoy, a partner in the Garcia-McCoy-Lee Consulting Group, a public relations and real estate consulting firm that made its initial foray into judicial campaign management with his candidacy. McCoy is also a Los Angeles library commissioner and an experienced political fundraiser.

Bacigalupo said he was prepared to serve in whatever assignment the court gives him, but was hopeful he would be able to use his background—as a State Bar Court judge—in dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues.

He will succeed Judge David Finkel, who retired in January. His successor on the State Bar Court, where he said he expects to continue serving until the end of the year,  will be appointed by Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson, D-Culver City.

Gelfound could not be reached for comment, but his campaign consultant, Fred Huebscher—-who also ran campaigns for Gelfound, Walmark, and Weis—said the race was essentially over when the Court of Appeal ruled that Bacigalupo could be listed as “Judge, State Bar” in the general election.

He used that designation in the primary and received 36 percent in a four-way contest in which the eliminated candidates were titled “Superior Court Commissioner” and “Trial Attorney.”

Goldberg defeated Santa Monica civil practitioner Joseph Deering, who ran as “Eldercare Attorney,” a designation not previously seen in local races. The winner received 55.88 percent of the vote.

The contest played itself out about as expected, Goldberg said, with the “Criminal Prosecutor” designation and endorsements from the Times and other newspapers playing a key role. Although he had only reported spending $15,000 on the campaign through the Oct. 19 deadline for the last report, he said he spent additional funds on slate mailers after that time, ending up on about 2 million pieces of mail.

“It was an extremely interesting process,” he said of his campaign. “It was really a learning experience, getting some insight about the political process.”

But he is unlikely to run for anything else, he added. He said he hoped for a criminal law assignment, “at least starting out,” but would like to do civil work later on.

Goldberg will succeed Judge Michael Pirosh, who retired in February. He said he would probably not ask the governor for an appointment that would allow him to begin serving immediately, since he has a great deal of work to finish up at the District Attorney’s Office.

Deering said his showing was “pretty good for a private attorney.” While it was “too bad we couldn’t have won,” he said, “we got a lot of good support.”

He did not rule out another run in the future.

Naranjo, a trial prosecutor in Lancaster, pronounced himself “very pleased” after staying up most of the night “on pins and needles” monitoring returns on the county’s website. The final tally, which did not come in until 4 a.m. yesterday, gave him 52.96 percent of the more than 1 million ballots cast in his race against Deputy District Attorney Craig Renetzky.

Naranjo will succeed Judge Richard Spann, who did not run for re-election.

He attributed his victory to his endorsements by several newspapers—including the Los Angeles Times, the Antelope Valley Press, the MetNews,  the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the Daily News of Los Angeles, the Pasadena Star-News, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune—as well as his Spanish surname and his insertion on a number of slate mailers.

He said he would be happy to remain at the criminal courthouse in Lancaster, where he has worked for a decade, because the courthouse is “hurting for judges” and his civil background is “very limited.” But he would willingly go wherever Presiding Judge-elect Robert Dukes thought he was needed, he hastened to add.

He described the campaign as “a real eye-opener,” whose most difficult aspect was asking for money. As a neophyte candidate, he said, he was happy to take advice from people who had been involved in local politics in the Antelope Valley.

Renetzky could not be reached for comment, but Huebscher agreed that newspaper endorsements and the ethnic derivation of Naranjo’s name were crucial.

Candidates like Renetzky and Gelfound, who had to rely on slate mailers to overcome their opponents’ advantages, were hurt by the limited slate mail opportunities available, the consultant said. Tuesday’s election, he explained, featured “a dearth of countywide and statewide campaigns” anxious to buy on to millions of pieces of slate mail, as in some past elections.

Judicial candidates traditionally tag along, paying far less money than the major campaigns in order to be featured on those mailers, he explained.

In the closest of Tuesday’s races, Walmark defeated Workers’ Compensation Judge John C. Gutierrez, running as “Administrative Law Judge,” 51.39 percent to 48.61. Walmark will succeed Judge Reginald Dunn, who is stepping down at the end of his term to become a private judge.

Walmark was endorsed by the Times and other newspapers and rated “well qualified” by the County Bar, which rated Gutierrez “qualified.” Both candidates bought onto a number of slate mailers.

Neither candidate could be reached yesterday for comment. 




Results of Nov. 5 Balloting in Judicial Races

Winners in bold



Ballot Designation






(Through Oct. 19)









                                                          Office No. 2

Hank Goldberg

Criminal Prosecutor




Joseph “Joe” Deering

Eldercare Attorney





                                                          Office No. 39

Richard E. Naranjo

Criminal Prosecutor




Craig Renetzky

Prosecutor/Law Professor





                                                          Office No. 67

Paul A. Bacigalupo

Judge, State Bar




David Gelfound

Criminal Prosecutor





                                                          Office No. 100

Richard F. Walmark

Criminal Trial Prosecutor




John C. Gutierrez

Administrative Law Judge









*Up-to-date filing not available; figure is from previous filing.












Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company